Accident Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil N353HW,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 161629
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Date:Tuesday 22 October 2013
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Hospital Wing
Registration: N353HW
MSN: 3401
Year of manufacture:2001
Total airframe hrs:6372 hours
Engine model:Turbomeca Arriel 2B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Fayette Academy, Somerville, TN -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Memphis, TN (2TN0)
Destination airport:Bolivar, TN (60TN)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The helicopter of Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service dba Helicopter Wing was dispatched to pick up a patient at a hospital and transport him to another hospital near the helicopter’s home base. The pilot performed a weather check, and the flight departed with two medical staff on board. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure helipad. Satellite tracking data revealed that the helicopter proceeded in an easterly direction, following a US highway. The helicopter then climbed in right-hand turn until the satellite data ended; the helicopter was about 1,116 feet above ground level (agl). The wreckage was found, burning, in a wooded area, about 3,300 feet south of the US highway. No eyewitnesses to the accident were located. The helicopter impacted the trees at a steep angle, and the orientation of the main wreckage was indicative of a loss of helicopter control before impact. The wreckage was largely consumed by a postcrash fire.
Examination of the airframe, rotor system, and engine did not reveal evidence of a preexisting mechanical malfunction of failure. Rotational signatures on the main rotor and engine indicated that the engine was producing power at the time of the accident.
The helicopter was equipped with night vision goggles (NVG) and NVG-capable lighting. The pilot had been trained on the use of NVG about 12 months before the accident. The helicopter was not equipped for flight under instrument flight rules.
A review of the weather conditions revealed that, at an airport within 2 miles of the accident site, few clouds were observed at 800 feet agl, and a broken ceiling existed at 1,200 feet agl. A review of the helicopter’s ground track revealed two obstacles in the immediate vicinity, an unlit, nonoperational cellular tower, 140-feet tall, and a water tower, about 115-feet tall. The helicopter was equipped with a Helicopter Terrain Avoidance Warning System (HTAWS). Although recorded HTAWS data was not available, research and flight testing revealed that the pilot may have received an in-flight obstacle alert, prompting a climb. Considering the low clouds and night conditions that probably existed along the last segment of the flight’s track, it is likely that the pilot initiated a climb and inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions, where a loss of helicopter control occurred.

Probable Cause: The pilot’s inadvertent encounter with night, instrument meteorological conditions while responding to an obstacle alert, resulting in an in-flight loss of helicopter control.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA14FA010
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report




Revision history:

22-Oct-2013 18:22 gerard57 Added
22-Oct-2013 18:23 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Destination airport]
22-Oct-2013 18:24 harro Updated [Departure airport, Narrative]
22-Oct-2013 23:04 Geno Updated [Time, Location, Source]
23-Oct-2013 16:56 Geno Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Departure airport, Source]
31-Oct-2013 22:50 Geno Updated [Time, Destination airport, Source]
11-Jul-2015 17:33 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
09-Sep-2015 09:15 Aerossurance Updated [Operator]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
29-Nov-2017 09:17 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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