ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 235507
Last updated: 20 November 2021
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Type:Silhouette image of generic H500 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hughes 369D
Owner/operator:Haverfield Aviation
Registration: N9159F
MSN: 1090605D
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Pylesville, Harford County, MD -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:External load operation
Departure airport:Pylesville, MD
Destination airport:Pylesville, MD
Investigating agency: NTSB
On April 25, 2020, at 1240 eastern daylight time, a Hughes 369D helicopter, N9159F, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Pylesville, Maryland. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter was operated by Haverfield Aviation as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133 rotorcraft external load operation.

The pilot reported that while he was performing human external cargo (HEC) long line operations, he was requested by ground personnel to support the movement of a conductor powerline nearby. He proceeded to the landing zone which was about 300-400 ft from the area requiring assistance, dropped off the HEC, and via the long line, he picked up a conductor hook, all from a hover, and continued to the area that needed support. He reported that after the hook was attached to the wire, he began maneuvering for about 10-15 seconds to move the wire a short distance laterally, as a crane was supporting the weight of the wire. During the maneuvering, the pilot applied "slight aft and up pressure" to move the conductor, there was no lateral banking, and the pitch attitude was about 5°-10° nose up. After the conductor was moved to the area needed, the pilot maneuvered to remove the hook, but prior to the hook becoming free from the conductor, the helicopter entered a left yaw and the engine began "spooling down."

The pilot reported that he subsequently heard the "engine out alarm" and entered an autorotation by "slamming the collective down" and immediately pulling the belly band release levers, which was the first of two release levers that needed to be pulled to release the long line. As the helicopter entered the flare, he pulled the collective up to complete the autorotation landing, however the long line remained attached to the conductor wire and became taught, which rolled the helicopter onto its left side, where the main rotor blades impacted the ground.

Multiple witnesses on the ground reported that they heard the helicopter's engine go "quiet" shortly before the autorotation.

The pilot reported that the loss of engine power occurred about 150 ft above ground level and the helicopter impacted the ground about 4-5 seconds later. The pilot reported that he did not have sufficient time to pull the main hook emergency release lever (the second release lever) located on the cyclic control, which was why the line remained attached to the helicopter. He added that the cyclic was also equipped with a red push button that could release the main hook, however, the circuit breaker for this electrically activated release was pulled due to HEC operations being performed just prior to the accident. Figure 1 shows the location of the belly band release lever located next to the collective circled in red (on an exemplar helicopter), and the second photo on the right shows the red push button electric main hook release and the main hook release lever located on the cyclic control (on the accident helicopter).

The pilot reported that the belly band was a secondary cable support system required for when HEC operations were being performed, which they had been conducting just prior to the accident. Figure 2 shows the belly band, which is the blue band wrapped around the fuselage, and the main hook and long line circled in red.

According to photographs provided by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and the operator who examined the helicopter at the accident site, the tail boom and main/ tail rotors sustained substantial damage. Postaccident examination found 146 lbs (21.5 gallons) of fuel in the main tank, which could hold up to 421.9 lbs of usable fuel. There were no obvious signs of a catastrophic mechanical engine failure.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a helicopter rating. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in April 2019. The pilot reported a total flight time of 12,408 hours, 8,500 hours in the make and model helicopter, and 101 hours in the past 30 days.

Probable Cause and Findings
The loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of unporting of the fuel tank supply pickup while the helicopter was maneuvered to move a conductor wire. Contributing to the accident was the helicopter’s inappropriate configuration for the type of operation being conducted, which impeded the pilot’s ability to release the long line and perform a successful emergency landing.

Sources:,P95_LOC_CITY_NAME,P95_REGIST_NBR:25-APR-20,PYLESVILLE,N9159F (photo)

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


Revision history:

25-Apr-2020 18:49 gerard57 Added
25-Apr-2020 18:55 Geno Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Source]
25-Apr-2020 19:49 RobertMB Updated [Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
26-Apr-2020 08:01 A.J.Scholten Updated [Narrative]
26-Apr-2020 14:21 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
27-Apr-2020 13:12 RobertMB Updated [Registration, Cn, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
28-Apr-2020 21:09 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
08-May-2020 05:04 Captain Adam Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
01-Mar-2021 19:36 harro Updated [[Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]]
08-May-2021 17:31 harro Updated [[[Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]]]
20-Jul-2021 18:44 harro Updated [Narrative, Accident report]
25-Sep-2021 12:03 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Embed code]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description