Accident Eurocopter EC-120B HB-ZLA, 29 Aug 2017
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 281080
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 EC20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC-120B
Owner/operator:Swiss Helicopter
Registration: HB-ZLA
MSN: 1618
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Mendrisio -   Switzerland
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:Genestrerio
Destination airport:Locarno Airport (ZJI/LSZL)
Investigating agency: STSB Switzerland
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
At 12:15, the pilot took off with two passengers on board. After a flight time of about 15 minutes, he landed on a meadow of his property just outside the village of Genestrerio and turned off the engine. The passenger in the front left opened the door, got out of the helicopter and subsequently opened the sliding door in the rear left to let the passenger get out. At the same time, the pilot also got out and closed the door on his side. He then moved to the left side of the helicopter and closed the sliding door as well as the front door. Subsequently, the three people went to the restaurant about 100 m away for lunch. The pilot stated that he had the helicopter in view while in the restaurant. After the individuals returned to the helicopter, the passenger sat back in the front left seat, with the pilot assisting him in buckling up. The pilot then closed the front left door and made sure the rear left sliding door was closed with a push of his hand. The passenger then boarded the helicopter on the right side, i.e. by the pilot's door, sat down in the middle seat and fastened her seat belt. After the pilot also got in and buckled up, he started the engine.
At 13:15 he took off and first climbed vertically, but without performing a hover check before transitioning to forward flight. It then flew over an industrial building to the railroad line and followed it towards Mendrisio to about 100 m above ground. After a flight time of about 45 seconds, the pilot switched on the air conditioning system and initiated a left turn under bank angle. He then became aware of a loud noise. He stated that he located the noise behind his head near the main rotor, but he could not attribute it to a source. He then removed the headset from his head and was able to hear the noise louder. In his estimation, it was not a metallic noise. It sounded as if a belt was hitting the helicopter. As a result, the pilot decided to land immediately in a meadow near San Martino, which he saw ahead.
The passenger in the left front seat filmed the flight with his smartphone from the moment the engine started in Genestrerio until the moment the pilot decided to land immediately. In the video recording, the noise is clearly audible. The pilot reduced engine power for the approach to the meadow. During this process, the noise was still audible.
During landing, the tail of the helicopter collided with the ground. After touching down on the landing skids and with the rotor still running, the passengers left the helicopter on the left side at the pilot's request and moved away from the danger area in a crouched position. The pilot then noticed that the Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD) indicated that the torque limit had been exceeded. After shutting down the engine and turning off the electrical system, the pilot exited the helicopter and locked all doors. The pilot stated that he did not notice anything unusual about the helicopter other than the noise. He was of the opinion that he had heard the noise until landing,

It must be assumed that the end of a seat belt hanging out caused the noise. It is conceivable that when the passenger got out of the helicopter in Genestrerio, she first slipped onto the leftmost seat before exiting through the open sliding door. In the process, the end of the belt was pulled along and finally fell down outside the cabin. When the pilot then closed the sliding door, he did not notice the end of the belt hanging down on the outside.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: STSB Switzerland
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 4 years and 11 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

04-Aug-2022 08:40 harro Added
04-Aug-2022 08:41 harro Updated [Damage]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2023 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av., 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314