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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 72393
Last updated: 18 May 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aérospatiale AS 350B2 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Southwest Med Evac
Registration: N157BC
C/n / msn: 2418
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:McGregor Military Range, 23 miles NE of El Paso, Texas -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:EL PASO, TX (KELP)
Destination airport:Mcgregor Range, NM
Investigating agency: NTSB
The commercial pilot and two paramedics were dispatched to a remote desert area for a simulated patient pick up. This was the pilot's second company flight and first uninstructed night vision goggle (NVG) flight since his recent company training. While maneuvering for the landing zone, ground personnel observed the helicopter orbit one or two times and the pilot was using the non-NVG spotlight to illuminate the ground. Ground personnel then observed the helicopter make a wide orbit before it banked about 45 degrees, entered a steep nose-down attitude, and impacted the ground. None of the witnesses reported an attempt by the helicopter to avoid an impact with the ground. A postcrash fire ensued. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded the safe operation of the helicopter.

On the night of the accident there was zero percent moon illumination and very little cultural lighting in the remote area where the accident occurred, resulting in low visual contrast when using NVG’s. The pilot’s recent NVG training had all been conducted on nights with high moon illumination and in populated areas with high amounts of cultural lighting and did not prepare the pilot for flight in the conditions encountered on the night of the accident. The low visual contrast conditions, combined with the narrow field of view of the NVG’s, reduced the pilot’s ability to maintain situational awareness. The lack of attempted recovery prior to ground impact suggests that the pilot did not recognize the helicopter’s descent rate and bank angle.
Probable Cause: The pilot's loss of situational awareness resulting in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's unfamiliarity with the hazards of a low-contrast area while using night vision goggles.


FAA register: 2. FAA:

Revision history:

07-Feb-2010 07:56 RobertMB Added
07-Feb-2010 10:40 RobertMB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
07-Feb-2010 23:46 FLYINGBROTHER1 Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Other fatalities]
12-Feb-2010 14:09 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn]
28-Jul-2014 18:55 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
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, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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