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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 143866
Last updated: 11 November 2021
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Date:19-FEB-2012
Time:18:45 PST
Type:Silhouette image of generic R22 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R22 Beta II
Owner/operator:Vertical CFI Helicopters
Registration: N7508Y
MSN: 3757
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Near Antioch, south of Rio Vista Municipal Airport, Rio Vista, CA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Training
Departure airport:Hayward Executive Airport, Hayward, California (HWD/KHWD)
Destination airport:Sacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California (SAC/KSAC)
Narrative:
On February 19, 2012, about 18:45 PST (Pacific Standard Time), a Beech 35-A33 airplane, N433JC, and a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N7508Y, collided midair near Antioch, California. The airplane was owned and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a local flight. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter Leasing Company and operated by the commercial pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 as a solo cross-country flight in preparation for obtaining her helicopter rating. None of the aircraft occupants were injured. The helicopter was receiving flight following at the time of the accident, and departed Hayward Executive Airport, Hayward, California, about 18:15 PST, with a planned destination of Sacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California. The airplane departed Byron Airport, Byron, California, about 18:35PST. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and neither aircraft filed a flight plan.

The airplane pilot stated that he performed an uneventful pre-flight inspection during which he confirmed all lights were operational. They departed Byron with the intention of performing three night landings, and 30 minutes of flight over Antioch and the Sacramento Delta area. After departure, they climbed to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (amsl), on a west heading. The pilot pointed out the local power station below to the passenger, and then discussed aircraft lights that he could see above and far into the distance; a few seconds later they felt a collision. Neither occupant observed another aircraft in close proximity prior to the collision, and the pilot was concerned that they may have struck a tower or bird. The airplane immediately began to shudder, and roll to the right. The pilot looked to the right wing and could see a hole, and a piece of tubing protruding from the leading edge. He established airplane control, and began a 180-degree climbing left turn to 3,000 feet. He confirmed that his landing lights were on throughout the flight. Although his transponder was switched on and set to 1200, he had not established radio contact with any air traffic control facility prior to the collision.

The pilot elected to return to Byron Airport. While en route, he established radio contact with Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (NORCAL), who told him he had struck a helicopter. He maintained straight and level flight by utilising continuous left aileron and rudder control inputs. During the final approach segment, the propeller speed began to decrease and he was unable to maintain altitude. As the airplane began to slow down, it began to pitch to the right despite his left control inputs. The airplane subsequently landed hard in a field short of the runway.

The helicopter pilot stated that she departed Hayward with a route that was to follow highways to Concord, Antioch, and ultimately Sacramento. She contacted NORCAL Approach for flight following once she had reached Dublin, and was issued a discreet transponder code. Once over Concord, the approach controller transferred her to Travis Air Force Base Radar Approach Control. She continued the flight, and stated that a short time later she received a traffic advisory from the Travis controller. She turned on the helicopter's landing lights to increase her visibility, and began looking for the traffic (she further reported that she may have turned off the light a short time later.) She stated that based on her communication with air traffic controllers, she did not perceive the situation to be urgent. She thought she received two traffic advisories in total. The flight continued and she initiated a left turn to the north, while relaying this information to the controller. A short time later, she caught site of the silhouette of an airplane and propeller at her 4 o'clock position. She performed an evasive maneuver to the left, and then felt the helicopter being struck. She did not know the extent of the damage, and elected to immediately perform a precautionary landing. The area below was unlit and dark, and she was aware that it included significant areas of water. She therefore selected a road as her emergency landing spot. During the approach she could see multiple automobiles and diverted to a spot adjacent to the highway. She raised the collective control between 50 and 75 feet above ground level, the helicopter landed hard, and rolled onto its left side.

Probable Cause: The failure of both pilots to see and avoid the other aircraft during cruise flight. Contributing to the accident was the failure of air traffic control personnel to issue the helicopter pilot with a prompt and appropriate alternate course of action upon receiving a conflict alert.

Sources:

NTSB
2. FAA register: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?omni=Home-N-Number&nNumberTxt=7508Y
3. http://helihub.com/2012/02/19/19-feb-12-robinson-r22-rio-vista-us-california/
4. https://abc7news.com/archive/8550211/
5. https://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/20/us/california-midair-collision/index.html
6. http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo/000113106.html
7. http://airflightdisaster.com/index.php/california-chopper-collides-with-plane-midair/

Location

Media:

JD Sheehan Completes his first solo flight at Makin Air Helicopters in Hayward CA on May 14th 2009 in a Robinson R22 Helicopter N7508Y.

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
19-Feb-2012 22:14 Geno Added
20-Feb-2012 04:39 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Total occupants, Nature, Source, Damage, Narrative]
02-Mar-2012 11:42 Geno Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
10-Oct-2016 13:34 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:26 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
27-Nov-2017 20:19 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
03-Sep-2018 23:33 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Source]
04-Sep-2018 00:22 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]

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