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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 72681
Last updated: 25 April 2019
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Date:14-FEB-2010
Time:15:05
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC35 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Eurocopter EC 135T1
Owner/operator:Services Group of America Inc
Registration: N127TS
C/n / msn: 0094
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:Cave Creek, N of Phoenix, AZ -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Parks, AZ
Destination airport:Scottsdale, AZ (SDL)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
A ranch foreman who observed the flight preparations saw the helicopter owner board the helicopter through the left forward cockpit door and occupy the left front cockpit seat. The helicopter owner's 5-year old daughter also boarded the helicopter through the left forward cockpit door and sat on her father's lap. The pilot, who had accumulated 11,045 hours of total flight time, all in rotorcraft-helicopters, 824 hours of which were in the EC135 T1, was already seated in the right front cockpit seat. Both the left and right front cockpit seats were equipped with dual flight controls. Operator personnel revealed that the helicopter owner's daughter had sat on her father's lap occasionally during flights, that the owner liked to fly the helicopter, and that it was common for him to fly. Although the owner held a certificate for airplane single-engine land, he was not a rated helicopter pilot. However, it could not be determined who was flying the helicopter at the time of the accident.

About 35 minutes after departing the ranch, the helicopter approached an area about 1 nautical mile (nm) north of the accident site. Radar data revealed that the helicopter was about 2,000 feet above ground level (agl). Witnesses on the ground stated that they heard unusual popping or banging noises. Several witnesses also stated that they saw parts separate from the helicopter before it circled and dove to the ground. The helicopter impacted a river wash area north of the destination airport in a slightly nose-down and slightly left-bank attitude. The helicopter was subsequently consumed by a postcrash fire. The accident was not survivable.

A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the yellow blade had impacted the left horizontal endplate and the tail rotor drive shaft in the area of the sixth hangar bearing, which resulted in the loss of control and subsequent impact with terrain. All of the damage at the aft end of the steel section of the tail rotor drive shaft was consistent with a single impact from the yellow main rotor blade. No preimpact failures or material anomalies were found in the wreckage and component examinations that could explain the divergence of the yellow blade from the plane of main rotor rotation. The most probable scenario to explain what caused the yellow blade to be in a position to strike the tail rotor drive shaft was that all of the main rotor blades were following a path that would have intersected the tail rotor drive shaft as a result of an abrupt and unusual control input. Further, witness marks that were on the tops of the blade cuffs likely occurred during the accident flight.

Flight simulation indicated that the only way that this condition could have occurred was as a result of a sudden lowering of the collective to near the lower stop, followed by a simultaneous reaction of nearly full-up collective and near full-aft cyclic control inputs. A helicopter pilot would not intentionally make such control movements.

A biomechanical study determined that it was feasible that the child passenger was seated on the helicopter owner's lap in the left front cockpit seat during the flight and that the child could fully depress the left-side collective control by stepping on it with her left foot. The child was estimated to weigh about 42 pounds at the time of the accident. The collective has a breakout force of between 2.2 and 3.1 pounds and would only need a maximum force of 5 pounds to fully move the control. Thus, the force to displace the collective fully was a maximum of 8.1 pounds, which is much less than the child's total weight and less than she would exert with her left foot if pushing to stand up from a seated position.

The biomechanical study also found that the collective lever's full range of motion was 9.5 inches from full up to full down and that the spacing between the left edge of the seat, the collective, and the door are sufficient such that a child's foot could rest on the collective and depress it. The study noted that the cyclic control could be moved to the fu
Probable Cause: The sudden and inadvertent lowering of the collective to near the lower stop, followed by a simultaneous movement of the collective back up and the cyclic control to a nearly full-aft position, which resulted in the main rotor disc diverging from its normal plane of rotation and striking the tail rotor drive shaft and culminated in a loss of control and subsequent impact with terrain. Contributing to the accident was absence of proper cockpit discipline from the pilot.

Sources:

NTSB: https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20100214X92140&key=1


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
14-Feb-2010 21:25 chullian1819 Added
14-Feb-2010 23:33 RobertMB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Source, Damage]
16-Feb-2010 11:25 RobertMB Updated [Time, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
16-Feb-2010 16:20 RobertMB Updated [Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative]
18-Aug-2010 14:42 TB Updated [Other fatalities, Location]
10-Nov-2012 21:35 bizjets101 Updated [Source, Narrative]
05-Mar-2013 12:09 TB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Source, Narrative]
07-May-2016 09:15 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Narrative]
07-May-2016 11:25 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Aircraft type]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
26-Nov-2017 15:23 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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