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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 195664
Last updated: 15 February 2020
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Date:25-MAY-2017
Time:11:53
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC35 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Eurocopter EC 135P2
Owner/operator:Metro Aviation, Inc.
Registration: N62UP
C/n / msn: 0475
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:near New Castle Airport, DE -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Nature:Training
Departure airport:Atlantic City International Airport, NJ (ACY/KACY)
Destination airport:Atlantic City International Airport, NJ (ACY/KACY)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The purpose of the flight was for the airline transport pilot of the helicopter to practice solo instrument approaches in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The pilot received adequate preflight weather briefings using company-approved weather sources, including one 35 minutes before departure. The terminal area forecast published earlier that morning and valid for the pilot's anticipated time of arrival at the destination indicated that the visibility would be 6 statute miles with an overcast ceiling at 1,200 ft agl; though the most recent surface observation report contradicted the forecast, indicating that the visibility was 4 statute miles in rain and the overcast ceiling was at 500 ft. The pilot subsequently submitted a flight request form to his company, which documented the weather products he reviewed before the flight and indicated that he was aware of the reported and the forecast weather conditions for the route before departure. The company's operation control center approved and released the helicopter for the flight. A review of weather radar and surface weather observation reports current at the time of the departure revealed that the helicopter entered and remained in IMC as it continued to the destination airport.

A review of radar data and air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed that controllers provided radar vectors to the pilot for an instrument landing system (ILS) approach. The helicopter intercepted the localizer course about 1 nautical mile (nm) outside the approach gate. The controller then cleared the pilot for the approach with a restriction to maintain an altitude at or above 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl), which was both the assigned altitude and the intermediate altitude for the approach, until established on the approach and to contact the control tower at the destination airport. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and contacted the tower controller shortly thereafter. After checking in with the tower controller; the helicopter maintained 2,000 ft msl as it continued through the glideslope and crossed over the locator outer marker, which had a published crossing altitude of 1,842 ft msl.

As the helicopter reached a point about 3 nm inside the outer marker, while flying at an altitude about 2,000 ft msl, the pilot declared a missed approach, telling the controller that he had received "some bad vectors at the very end" and that he wanted to "just line up and come back around again." The controller advised the pilot to fly the published missed approach procedure (a straight-ahead climb to 900 ft msl and then a left climbing turn toward the next navigational fix, at an altitude 2,000 ft msl). The helicopter then climbed straight ahead to an altitude of 2,525 ft msl in 9 seconds, before it turned right and started descending rapidly. The helicopter's calculated rate of climb before it began to descend was about 3,000 ft/min, while it's calculated groundspeed was about 120 knots. This climb rate and speed were not consistent with the pilot using the helicopter's automatic flight control system go-around mode because they were well above the climb rate and groundspeed that the "go around" mode would have maintained. Radar contact was lost as the helicopter descended through 1,625 ft msl, and the calculated descent rate between the helicopter's final two radar-recorded positions was more than 7,000 ft/min. No further communications were received from the pilot. One witness reported seeing the helicopter "spinning down…out of the clouds in an upside-down nose dive." Another witness reported that the helicopter descended "like a rocket" and that he did not observe any smoke or fire before the helicopter impacted the ground.
The helicopter came to rest in a ditch, fragmented and mostly consumed by postimpact fire, about 3,200 ft before the runway threshold.

Probable Cause: The pilot's loss of helicopter control during a missed approach in instrument meteorological conditions due to spatial disorientation and the cumulative effects of task saturation.

Sources:

NTSB: https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20170525X33813&key=1

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 4 months
Download report: Final report


Images:


Photo: DSP

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
25-May-2017 17:11 Aerossurance Added
25-May-2017 17:14 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]
25-May-2017 17:15 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]
25-May-2017 17:18 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
25-May-2017 17:21 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type]
25-May-2017 17:54 Geno Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
25-May-2017 19:25 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
26-May-2017 04:56 Geno Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Embed code]
26-May-2017 07:00 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
26-May-2017 10:05 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Narrative]
30-May-2017 12:41 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
13-Oct-2019 09:08 Aerossurance Updated [Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
13-Oct-2019 20:41 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
16-Oct-2019 18:04 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Operator, Country, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative, Accident report, ]
16-Oct-2019 18:07 harro Updated [Country, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
16-Oct-2019 18:12 harro Updated [Location, Photo]
20-Oct-2019 13:55 harro Updated [Source, Embed code, Accident report, ]

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