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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 149079
Last updated: 24 October 2017
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Type:Silhouette image of generic R22 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R22 Beta
Owner/operator:Helicopter Services Inc
Registration: N281RG
C/n / msn: 4250
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location:1 mile East of Highway 90, Near Crosby, Texas -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Baytown Airport, Baytown, Texas (HPY/KHPY)
Destination airport:David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport, Houston, Texas, (DWH/KDWH)
Investigating agency: NTSB
On September 10, 2012, about 15:42 CDT (Central Daylight Time), N281RG, a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a low-altitude maneuvering flight in Houston, Texas. The commercial pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Helicopter Services, Incorporated, Spring, Texas. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial photography flight. The helicopter had departed Baytown Airport (HPY), Baytown, Texas, approximately 15:00 CDT.

The helicopter originally departed David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (DWH), Houston, Texas, about 12:00 CDT, and flew in the local area before landing at Baytown around 14:25 CDT. Fueling records indicate the helicopter was serviced with 22.9 gallons of 100LL fuel at 14:29 CDT. Around 15:00 CDT, the Baytown Airport manager saw the pilot and the passenger depart toward the southwest. Approximately 45 minutes later, the helicopter was observed by several witnesses maneuvering over the steel pipe yard near the accident location.

A witness was driving west on Highway 90 toward the beltway when he first observed the helicopter. He said it was about a mile away and at first he thought it was a remote controlled helicopter. The witness said the helicopter was “way up there” and estimated that it was about 400-500 feet above the ground. The helicopter was spinning slowly (he did not recall what direction it was turning) around the main rotor shaft and was descending vertically about 70-80 miles per hour as if it had "lost power." There was no smoke or parts coming off the helicopter as it descended. The main rotor blades were turning "slower than expected" and were not deflected upward. The witness said that the tail rotor did not appear to be turning. The helicopter then impacted the ground, which resulted in a large dust cloud. The witness stopped his vehicle and ran towards the helicopter. After he negotiated a chain link fence, he and another witness used fire extinguishers to contain the post-impact fire, which he described being more intense on the right side of the helicopter, until the fire department arrived.

Another witness was driving east on Highway 90 toward the beltway when he first observed the helicopter about a mile away. It was 70 to 100 feet-high above the ground and was slowly spinning counter-clockwise around the main rotor shaft and was in a slow vertical descent. The witness said the helicopter seemed to move in “slow-motion.” When it was approximately 40 to 50 feet above the ground, the helicopter’s descent rate increased rapidly before it impacted the ground. The witness thought the pilot was trying to land and he did not observe any smoke coming from the helicopter prior to impact. He noted that the main rotor blades were turning “pretty slow” and it seemed “like he lost power.” The body of the helicopter was level and the main rotor blades were not deflected upward. The witness could not hear the helicopter prior to the impact, which occurred just as he was stepping out of his vehicle. After the impact, he observed a large dust plume as he was running to the steel yard. Seconds later, as he was trying to crawl under a chain link fence, he saw a fireball coming from the helicopter. He and another responder used fire extinguishers to contain the post-impact fire until the fire department arrived.

PROBABLE CAUSE: The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The pilot's failure to maintain control of the helicopter after a loss of engine power. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined because examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded operation.


1. NTSB Identification: CEN12FA621 at
2. FAA:

Revision history:

11-Sep-2012 09:13 Geno Added
19-Sep-2012 12:57 Geno Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
10-Oct-2016 18:59 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
10-Oct-2016 19:00 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source]
10-Oct-2016 19:08 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]

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