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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 233444
Last updated: 15 September 2021
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Date:14-FEB-2013
Time:12:21
Type:Silhouette image of generic BK17 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Eurocopter BK 117 C-2
Owner/operator:Life Flight
Registration: N481LF
MSN: 9392
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:Danville, PA -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Nature:Unknown
Departure airport:Muncy, PA (7PS5)
Destination airport:Danville, PA (79PN)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The pilot reported that, as the helicopter approached mountainous terrain near the hospital during a helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) flight, he turned the helicopter slightly right to pass through a gap in the ridgeline and then continued to fly directly to the heliport. The pilot then radioed that he was “3 minutes out.” About this time, the medical crew intubated the patient, and the communications center advised the pilot that two people were on the roof to assist him. He then observed two individuals on the rooftop helipad, which, “while not abnormal,” was “not routine.” He was “a bit concerned” because he wanted to make sure the personnel were clear of the helipad before landing. The pilot recalled that he was somewhat more attuned to the patient’s condition because the medical crew was working hard to keep the patient alive and was moving around the cabin unrestrained. He continued descending the helicopter on a straight-in approach and began the final approach to the rooftop helipad. About 100 yards from touchdown, he noticed something “orange” out of the left window. At almost the same time, the flight paramedic mentioned that he also “saw something orange.” The pilot then felt a “slight low frequency vibration,” which was also noticed by the flight nurse. About 6 seconds later, he landed the helicopter on the helipad, executed an emergency shutdown, and then cleared the crew to exit.
A contractor who was operating a construction crane near the heliport reported that he was lowering a piece of equipment onto the roof of a building when he observed a helicopter approaching. Another contractor then observed one of the helicopter’s blades contact the flag marker, which was mounted on the top of the construction crane boom, and “pieces of wood and flag…flying all over the place.” Examination of the helicopter confirmed that the main rotor had contacted the flag marker and that one of its blades was substantially damaged. According to the pilot, neither he, the flight nurse, nor the flight paramedic had seen the construction crane before the helicopter contacted it while approaching the helipad.
Review of photographs taken after the accident revealed that the pilot’s straight-in approach to the rooftop helipad passed over the location of the construction crane, which was positioned next to a nearby building. Flight crews had been notified of the construction crane’s position 2 days before the accident, and the pilot believed that he had briefed the crew about the presence of the construction crane at the medical center. According to the notification, the crane was to be in position between about 0700 to 1000 local time and was going to have a beacon on top because of the proximity of the helipad. However, no beacon was installed, and the crane was still in use and in position 2 hours 21 minutes after the notification advised that the work was supposed to be completed.
No evidence was found indicating that the continued operation of the construction crane nor its presence was transmitted to the flight crewmembers when the flight was approaching the hospital. The investigation revealed that the communications technician was on the rooftop helipad at the time of the accident, not at her duty station manning the radio. The investigation also revealed that another helipad, which was located at ground level and was not near the construction crane, was available at the time of the accident and could have been used for the landing.
If the pilot had been provided with correct information about the construction crane’s operation time and its presence or if he had used the available ground-level helipad, he would have been more likely to have avoided the crane. However, if the pilot had followed the guidance in the company’s general operations manual, which required that a high-orbiting reconnaissance be completed before beginning the approach and that all published helicopter procedures for the heliport and helipad be observed (which in the case of the rooftop helipad designated a left traffic pattern), the

Probable Cause: The pilot’s decision to conduct a straight-in approach to the helipad, which resulted in the main rotor blade impacting a construction crane flag marker. Contributing to the accident was the erroneous information about the construction crane’s operation time and the pilot’s self-induced time pressure, which resulted from his awareness of the patient’s medical situation during the flight.

Sources:

NTSB

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 7 years
Download report: Final report
Location


Images:

Photo of N481LF courtesy AirHistory.net


Williamsport - Regional (KIPT / IPT)
9 October 2018; (c) Gary Vincent

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
02-Mar-2020 11:04 ASN Update Bot Added

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