Thursday, December 17, 2015

Robinson R44 Raven II, N255VS, Vertical Solutions LLC: Accident occurred December 16, 2015 at Valdez Pioneer Field Airport (PAVD), Valdez, Valdez-Cordova, Alaska


NTSB Identification: ANC16LA010 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 16, 2015 in Valdez, AK
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N255VS
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 16, 2015, about 0942 Alaska standard time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N255VS, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power during takeoff from the Valdez Airport, Valdez, Alaska. The commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Vertical Solutions, LLC, of Valdez, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a power line patrol flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an FAA flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Valdez Airport about 0938.

During an on-scene interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) on December 18, 2015, the pilot stated that he had computed the weight and balance, and performed a preflight inspection prior to pushing the helicopter out of the hangar. After the passengers boarded the helicopter, and the passenger safety briefing was completed, the engine was started and allowed to warm up for about 5 minutes, and all ground run-up checks of the engine were satisfactory. He stated that after liftoff the helicopter was held in about a 10 foot hover above ground level (agl), before commencing a left turn, accelerating to about 25 knots and initiating a climb. He reported that as the helicopter climbed through about 20 feet agl, all engine power was lost. The pilot entered an emergency autorotation and landed the helicopter on an adjacent taxiway. During touchdown, the helicopter landed hard, sustaining substantial damage to the fuselage, skids, and tail boom.

The helicopter was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 series engine, a detailed engine examination is pending. 

The closest weather reporting facility is Valdez Airport. At 0936, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Valdez, Alaska, reported in part: wind, calm; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, broken clouds 7,000 feet, overcast 8,000 feet; temperature, 21 degrees F; dew point 21 degrees F; altimeter, 29.97 inHG.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03

Officials in Valdez say three people on Wednesday survived a hard landing by a helicopter at the city airport.

City public information officer Allie Hendrickson says a bystander witnessed the Vertical Solutions helicopter landing hard at Pioneer Field Airport and called emergency officials.

An announcement by the Copper Valley Electric Association says two association employees had contracted the helicopter to patrol electricity transmission lines from the air and it took off just before 9:30 a.m.

When the helicopter reached 75 feet, it lost power and fell.

CVEA says the tail section separated from the rest of the helicopter.

The association says its two employees were shaken but not injured. They were to be examined by a doctor.

Hendrickson says there was no damage to airport property or other aircraft.

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