Accident Agusta A109A Hirundo N25RX,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 44974
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Tuesday 23 December 2003
Type:Silhouette image of generic A109 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Agusta A109A Hirundo
Registration: N25RX
MSN: 7220
Total airframe hrs:3847 hours
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Redwood Valley, CA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Ukiah, CA (UKI)
Destination airport:Willits, CA
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Following an encounter with night instrument meteorological conditions, the emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter collided with rising hilly terrain while attempting to reverse course in a narrow mountain valley near Redwood Valley, California. The purpose of the flight was to pickup a patient at a rural hospital in a mountainous area for transport to a larger medical facility. When weather conditions would not permit reaching the rural hospital, common practice for the operator's flight crews was to fly to an intermediate airport with an instrument approach where the helicopter could meet ground transport of the patient and continue the evacuation. Prior to departure from home base, the pilot received a weather briefing from DUATS, which indicated that areas along the route of flight would experience light rain showers, as well as cloud layers that ranged from 1,500 feet above ground level (agl) to 6,000 feet agl ,and visibilities between 3 to 5 statute miles (sm). The pilot filed an instrument flight rules flight plan from his home base to the intermediate airport. An employee of another EMS operator based at the intermediate airport said that there was rain and reduced visibilities at the airport, and that she told the accident medical crew by radio that they should come inside and wait for the ambulance to get to the airport because of the weather. Once the accident helicopter arrived at the intermediate airport, the helicopter was not shut down, the flight nurses got out and got back in, and helicopter departed the airport. Communications between a fire department dispatcher and the accident medical crew indicated that the accident flight was attempting to fly to the fire department's helipad located between the intermediate airport and the hospital. Recorded company communications indicated that a few minutes after the conversation with the fire department dispatcher, the accident flight was diverting back to the intermediate airport. There were no further communications with the accident crew. Witnesses in the area of the accident site all reported heavy rain and wind and poor visibilities due to a heavy fog in the area. Another witness about 2 miles south of the accident site reported hearing the helicopter flying very low over her house, just above the 100-foot tall treetops, about 12 minutes before the accident. The charge nurse at the rural hospital indicated that the weather was poor, and she had indicated to the operator's dispatch that the rural hospital would transport the patient to the intermediate airport. The accident area was located in a narrow valley with mountain peak elevations ranging up to 2,000 feet on either side of a major highway that ran in a north/south direction. The airframe and engines were inspected with no preimpact mechanical anomalies noted.
Probable Cause: The pilot's improper in-flight planning and decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into deteriorating weather conditions, which resulted in an inadvertent in-flight encounter with instrument meteorological conditions and a collision with rising terrain while attempting to reverse course.




Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
07-Feb-2009 10:20 harro Updated
27-Jan-2010 09:54 Alpine Flight Updated [Aircraft type, Other fatalities]
04-Feb-2013 10:31 TB Updated [Location, Phase, Source, Narrative]
04-Feb-2013 10:33 TB Updated [Time, Operator]
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
08-Dec-2017 20:26 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2023 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314