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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 45676
Last updated: 25 April 2019
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Date:12-DEC-2001
Time:18:22 CST
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:WW Helicopters
Registration: N7007F
C/n / msn: 0508
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Interstate Highway I-43 near Waukesha, Wisconsin -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin (MWC/KMWC)
Destination airport:East Troy Municipal Airport, near East Troy, Wisconsin (FAA LID:57C)
Narrative:
On December 12, 2001, about 18:22 CST (Central Standard Time), a Robinson R44 helicopter, N7007F, was destroyed when it impacted power lines and impacted Interstate Highway 43 near Waukesha, Wisconsin. Four motor vehicles were damaged. The helicopter impacted one of the motor vehicles and the remaining three motor vehicles sustained minor damage. The helicopter was piloted by an airline transport pilot. The flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Night visual to instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot was fatally injured, one motor vehicle occupant sustained serious injury, and one motor vehicle occupant sustained minor injury. The positioning flight originated about 18:10 CST from the Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport (MWC), near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was destined for East Troy Municipal Airport, near East Troy, Wisconsin.

A witness, who had been a passenger on the flight immediately prior to the accident flight, stated:

At approx. 4:40 pm we launched from MWC after taking on fuel. We flew to a tannery fire at 3rd [and] Oregon approx 5 miles north of MKE [General Mitchell International Airport]. We orbited the fire taking pictures until approx 6 pm. We then returned to MWC. I exited the aircraft at approx. 6:10 pm and the pilot told me he was going back to the East Troy airport to hangar the aircraft. At the time it was dark [and] cloudy with drizzle.

The pilot requested to transition through the Waukesha County Airport (UES), near Waukesha, Wisconsin, airspace. The air traffic controller on duty at UES stated the following.

Chopper 12 called Waukesha tower and requested to transition from the northeast to the southwest. I instructed him [Chopper 12] to remain outside of the airspace and that he would have to circumnavigate due to the fact that Waukesha was in IMC [instrument meteorological condition] conditions. Chopper 12 acknowledged and stated that he would remain approximately 5 - 5 1/2 miles east southeast. This was the last contact with Chopper 12 by Waukesha tower. UES weather - 130000Z 12005kt 1 1/2 SM DZ OVC004 07/07 A2989.

A witness who had been driving in a motor vehicle stated the following.

We were the third vehicle directly in the path of the helicopter, approx 1/4 miles in front of our vehicle. I...was driving and saw a red light over what seemed like the median a few 100 ft. in the air. The light rose almost straight upward maybe another 200 ft and then began corkscrewing downward. It was very foggy and difficult to see anything. We stopped, turned on our yellow strobe and hazard flashers, and went up to check the pilot. My wife telephoned 911 for help.

The helicopter came to rest on the northbound lanes of Interstate Highway 43 about 200 feet southwest of power lines that cross the highway near its intersection with State Highway 164. The area was photographed and the helicopter wreckage was relocated to a hangar.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. Waukesha County Sheriff's photographs revealed the tailcone's skin was separated at a riveted splice joint. The photographs show the skid's struts were hinged upward and outward. A forward section of the right skid was torn from the right skid at the point where it is attached to its strut. The right side landing gear strut and strut fairings exhibited serrated cutting and scoring on their outboard surfaces. The ground handling wheel support brackets on the right landing gear skid were deformed in an outboard direction. A center section of a main rotor blade was separated from its leading edge and was retained to the blade's trailing edge. The engine's cowling was detached from the right side of the helicopter and was retained to the fuselage on the left side.

The engine cooling fan exhibited scoring and folding in a direction parallel to its rotational direction. The upper drive belt sheave exhibited circumferential scoring on its forward and aft surfaces. The upper sheave exhibited a semicircular gouge on the belt pulley surface adjacent starter's ring gear. The carburettor was found detached from the engine. Throttle, mixture, and carburettor heat control continuity was traced from the cockpit to the engine.

Control continuity was traced to all flight control surfaces. The engine rotated and produced a thumb compression at all cylinders. A magneto produced spark at five of its six leads. The remaining lead was found torn and a spark was observed at the torn section. Removed spark plugs exhibited a gray color. The Hobbs meter read 2864.4 hours on scene. The fiberglass chin portion of the front right side of the cabin exhibited a linear tear. The right side forward and aft cabin doors exhibited a linear scratch across them. The right navigation light assembly was found with a semicircular deformation.

The tailskid exhibited a semicircular deformation on its surface. The red navigation light filament was found stretched. The helicopter's color scheme contained blue, white, and red colors. The helicopter main rotor's had yellow as one of the colors in its scheme. No pre-impact anomalies were found.

A power line maintenance helicopter examined the power lines that crossed the highway. A maintenance crewmember reported the following:

I inspected the helicopter crash site at I-43, on December 14, 2001. I inspected the static wire span, hands on, and found some plastic and fiberglass shavings. I also found three different color paints, mainly blue, very little yellow and a tiny bit of red. The static wire did not have any broken strands at all. The static shoes were pulled toward the contact paint. I also found one broken damper and two knotted-up armor rods. The locations of apparent contact points on the shield wire was an area 35 - 40 feet just North of mid-span.

A power line employee reviewed sag, tension, and clearance data. He calculated that the wire was about "146' over the roadway."

Probable Cause: The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather and not maintaining altitude/clearance from the static line during cruise flight. Factors were the static wire, the darkness of night, the low ceiling, and the vehicle.

Sources:

1. NTSB Accident Number: CHI02FA049 at https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20011219X02422&key=1
2. FAA register: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?omni=Home-N-Number&nNumberTxt=7007F
3. http://www.planetrace.co.uk/2000-2009_33.html
4. https://planecrashmap.com/list/wi/N7007F
5. https://journaltimes.com/news/state-and-regional/news-helicopter-crashes-on-freeway-pilot-severely-injured/article_61571e3c-50e0-50e6-a7e4-dc32652cb02d.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
02-Sep-2016 21:31 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
10-Dec-2017 13:27 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Total occupants, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
12-Oct-2018 22:29 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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