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N999ZD accident description

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Tail numberN999ZD
Accident dateSeptember 21, 2008
Aircraft typeRobinson R44 II
LocationKenosha, WI
Near 42.621667 N, -87.959722 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 21, 2008, about 0538 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N999ZD, owned by Midwestern Air Services LLC, was destroyed when it impacted an occupied house and terrain near Kenosha, Wisconsin. A ground fire subsequently occurred. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The private pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. The five occupants in the house were uninjured. The flight originated from the Horseshoe Casino Heliport (2IG3), near Whiting, Indiana, about 0507, and was destined for the Kenosha Regional Airport (ENW), near Kenosha, Wisconsin, when the accident occurred.

According to information provided by Horseshoe Casino, the pilot landed at 1907 on September 20, 2008. The pilot and passenger had dinner, they observed a concert, and gambled. The pilot had a glass of wine with his dinner about 1930. About 0139 on September 21, 2008, a beverage confirmed to be a Captain Morgan's and diet Coke in a short glass was given to the pilot. About 0146, another Captain Morgan's and diet Coke in a tall glass was given to the pilot. About 0213, the pilot set the first glass down empty. About 0423, the pilot took a drink from the second drink glass. The glass was about half full. The pilot gambled until about 0449 and then he and his passenger departed for 2IG3. The pilot and passenger departed from 2IG3 about 0507.

A Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper who was outside the weight facility on Interstate 94 at the Illinois and Wisconsin State Line about six miles south of the accident site heard a helicopter heading north at a "very low altitude" and estimated it at 500 feet. He did not see the helicopter or its lights due to the "dense fog." He stated that the visibility there was about 300 to 500 feet.

A witness who lived near the accident site gave a statement to the Kenosha Police Department. The witness stated that a low flying helicopter was heard. It circled once then went away and came back. The witness saw an orange flash through the window and heard a "boom." The witness said the helicopter sounded "really low" and the "engine sounded like it was at low RPMs."

A witness from the occupied house on the northwest corner of 97th Avenue and 70th Street that was impacted by the helicopter gave a statement to the police department. The witness, in part, reported:

My family and I were fast asleep in our residence when I heard and felt a loud bang like thunder, and then a cloud of debris came [through] our bedroom door. My wife and I were in the southeast bedroom. Our two sons were in the northeast bedroom and our daughter was the bedroom over the garage. We got our kids and [with] the help of our neighbors made it down the stairs and outside. None of us were injured. I saw the flames across the street and one of our neighbors told me a helicopter hit our house.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate. He held a FAA third-class medical certificate issued on April 3, 2006, with no limitations. At the time of that medical, he reported 60 hours total flight time to date and 30 hours in the six months prior to that examination. The pilot's logbook indicated that the pilot had accumulated 329 hours of total flight time. The pilot recorded 37.25 hours of night flight time.

A certified flight instructor (CFI) that instructed the accident pilot indicated that two previous CFIs had instructed the accident pilot and had endorsed the accident pilot for solo flight training operations. According to the CFI, the two previous CFIs believed that the accident pilot was flying in violation of his solo privileges and the CFIs removed the accident pilot's solo endorsement. The CFI stated that he had no problems with the accident pilot's training and solo activities.

The accident pilot's medical certificate and student pilot certificate had a solo endorsement with "revoked" written across it.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N999ZD, serial number 11108, was a Robinson R44 II, Raven, four-place, two-bladed, single main rotor, single-engine helicopter, with a spring and yield skid type landing gear. The primary structure of its fuselage was welded steel tubing and riveted aluminum sheet. The tailcone was a monocoque structure consisting of an aluminum skin. A Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5, serial number L-30895-48A, engine rated at 205 horsepower, powered the helicopter. The helicopter had a five-minute takeoff rating of 245 horsepower.

Aircraft logbooks showed that the helicopter's last annual inspection was completed on July 10, 2008. At the time of that inspection the helicopter had accumulated a total time of 293 hours.

The CFI stated that the pilot had informed him of a loss of engine power during a flight from the casino in June of 2008. According to the CFI, the pilot reportedly landed near Lincoln Park in Chicago and restarted the engine and returned to ENW. The CFI stated that the pilot said that he had another loss of engine power about 10 days before the accident and landed in a parking lot at that time.

An airframe and powerplant mechanic stated that the accident pilot informed him of the recent power loss and asked the mechanic to look for water contamination or any reason for an engine power loss. The mechanic reported that "particulate matter" was found in the drained fuel. The screens in the fuel system were pulled and "minor traces" of debris were found.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0534, the recorded weather at ENW was: Wind 360 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 3/4 statute mile; present weather mist; sky condition overcast 100 feet; temperature 17 degrees C; dew point 16 degrees C; altimeter 30.26 inches of mercury.

COMMUNICATIONS

A recording of FAA radar depictions and common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) transmissions were reviewed. About 0534, eight 8 clicks were heard on the CTAF recording.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The airport elevation at ENW was 856 feet MSL. ENW was a controlled airport with three runways: 6L/24R, 6R/24L, and 14/32. Runway 6L/24R was 5,499 feet long by 100 feet wide and its surface was composed of grooved concrete. Runway 6R/24L was 3,302 feet long by 75 feet wide and its surface was composed of asphalt and concrete. Runway 14/32 was 4,440 feet long by 100 feet wide and its surface was composed of grooved concrete. The airport tower was attended from 0700 to 2100. The airport listed 118.6 megahertz as its CTAF. Remarks for the airport stated that when the tower is closed, high intensity runway lighting (HIRL) for runway 06L/24R are preset on low intensity. To increase intensity and activate HIRL for runway 14/32, medium intensity runway lighting for runway 06R/24L, vertical approach slope indicator (VASI) for runway 32, precision approach path indicator for runway 24R,6R, and 24L, runway end identifier lights for runway 14 and 24R, MALSR for runway 6L are activated by clicking the CTAF. The VASI for runway 14 operates 24 hours.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The helicopter came to rest about 1.5 miles south of ENW. The main portion of the helicopter wreckage was found on a neighbor's lawn across 97th Avenue from the impacted house. The helicopter was resting on its left side about 80 feet and about 106 degrees magnetic from the front of the impacted house. A debris path started at the rear of the second floor above the house's central staircase where the helicopter had come through the roof. The debris path was observed down those central stairs and through the front of the house. The path continued across 97th Avenue and went up to the resting helicopter. The helicopter's resting heading was about 180 degrees magnetic. The rear and lower portions of the helicopter cabin, inner portions of the fuel tanks, and the transmission between the fuel tanks were deformed and melted by fire. Sections of the main rotor blades remained attached to the rotor hub. The landing skids and crosstube were detached from the fuselage and were found in sections through out the debris path. The tail cone remained attached to the helicopter. The tail rotor gearbox separated from the tailcone. A circular area of lawn around the wreckage exhibited charring and blight. The hour meter read 318.6 hours.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. The engine was rotated by hand and it produced a thumb compression at all of its cylinders. The magnetos and fuel pumps sustained fire damage. The spark plugs were gray to brown in color and did not exhibit any anomalies. The fuel servo's screen did not contain any debris. The engine's oil screen did not contain any debris. Both fuel tanks were deformed by fire and contained a liquid with a blue hue. The tail rotor gearbox rotated by hand. The filament in the rotor's low rpm light bulb was found stretched. No pre-impact helicopter or engine anomalies were detected.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Records from the Office of the Medical Examiner for Kenosha County, Wisconsin, showed that an autopsy was performed on the 54-year-old pilot on September 22, 2008. The cause of death was listed as "multiple injuries due to helicopter crash."

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report, in part, stated:

31 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Muscle 62 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Kidney 3 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Kidney

FIRE

A post impact ground fire occurred in the area where the main helicopter wreckage had come to rest and the fire was extinguished by the responding fire department.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

FAA regulation part 91.17 Alcohol or drugs, in part, stated:

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft- (1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage; (2) While under the influence of alcohol;

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.