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N74548 accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location 39.241111°N, 76.517223°W
Nearest city Baltimore, MD
39.290385°N, 76.612189°W
6.1 miles away
Tail number N74548
Accident date 15 Nov 2006
Aircraft type Robinson R44 II
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On November 15, 2006, at 1441 eastern standard time, a Robinson R44 II, N74548, was substantially damaged when it impacted a parking lot following an attempted landing on a shipping trailer at the Port of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The ferry flight originated at Shannon Airport (EZF), Fredericksburg, Virginia and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The purpose of the flight was to deliver the helicopter to the Port of Baltimore for shipment overseas to its new owner. The pilot was a last-minute substitution, and performed the flight as a favor to the previous owner. In an interview, the shipping agent explained that he witnessed the accident as he attempted to direct and assist the pilot with his landing on the trailer. The shipping agent communicated with the pilot by radio and hand-and-arm signals.

According to the agent, the helicopter approached the trailer, and landed "softly," with the nose canted slightly to the helicopter's right. The helicopter then lifted until it was "light on the skids," and drifted left until the left skid was suspended above the ground, off the left side of the trailer. The helicopter then settled onto the trailer and the left skid "fell' toward the ground.

The helicopter immediately lifted from the platform and entered a spin to the left. The rotor blades "sounded as if they were going faster" as the helicopter spun around the back side of the trailer, and collided with the ground on the right side of the trailer. The landing skids collapsed, and the helicopter spun "two to four" more times before it came to rest upright. The engine continued to run, and the pilot began to exit the helicopter, before he returned to the cockpit to shut down the engine.

Several other witnesses provided similar written accounts. One witness stated that the left skid "slipped off the side," and that the helicopter then "shot quickly into the air." Another said "the landing skid fell off the platform" and then the helicopter "went into a spin."

In an interview, the pilot said that the flight to the Port was uneventful, and that the performance of the helicopter was "good," with no problems noted. He completed a landing to the platform, and then got the helicopter "light on the skids." At that point, "one skid felt like it was a pivot point, it felt like 'dynamic rollover'. I pulled too much collective, it got out of control, and I couldn't recover. As I was out of control, I remember reaching up and trying to get the key and the 'master' off to kill the engine."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 39 degrees, 14 minutes north latitude, and 76 degrees, 31 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft/helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on April 26, 2004.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that the pilot had accrued about 210 total hours of flight experience, all of which was in helicopters. He had about 100 total hours of experience in the R44, approximately 90 hours of which were in the accident helicopter.


The helicopter was manufactured in 2005, and had accrued 244.9 total aircraft hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed May 11, 2006, at 197.2 aircraft hours. According to the Robinson R-44 II Pilot's Operating Handbook, the distance between the two landing gear skids was 83 inches.


At 1454, the weather reported at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), about 10 miles southwest, included a broken ceiling at 11,000 feet and winds from 080 degrees at 6 knots. The visibility was 6 miles in haze. The temperature was 60 degrees and the dew point was 54 degrees.


The helicopter was examined at the site on November 15, 2006, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The shipping trailer was 40 feet long, 101 inches wide, and oriented 240 degrees magnetic.

The helicopter came to rest 51 feet southwest of the shipping trailer, oriented 175 degrees magnetic. The main landing gear was collapsed, and the forward portion of the left main landing gear was separated. The right main landing gear was separated and rested next to the helicopter. The belly of the helicopter was crushed upwards in compression.

The cockpit and cabin area was intact. Both cockpit doors remained attached, but the lower hinges were broken on each. The tailboom was straight and undamaged back to a point about 6 feet prior to the tail rotor, where the boom was fractured, and bent about 90 degrees.

The fracture area was heavily damaged by impact, and showed yellow paint transfers consistent with the color of the main rotor blade tips. The fracture was directly under the outer diameter of the main rotor plane of rotation. The tailrotor driveshaft was fractured, but the tailrotor control cable sleeve, while bent, remained intact. One tailrotor blade was fractured at the hub, while the other remained intact. The top 18 inches of the vertical fin was separated by impact at a sharp angle.

Control continuity was established through the collective and cyclic controls to the main rotor head. Continuity was also established from the anti-torque pedals to the tailrotor blade grips.

The upper pylon was intact. The main rotor blades displayed tip damage and upward curling of the outboard 18 inches of each. One blade displayed wrinkling about mid-span.


The helicopter was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain control while landing to a trailer, which resulted in a collision with terrain. A factor in the accident was the narrow trailer.

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