by Jim Timm


In this regular reporting of aviation accidents that have occurred in Arizona, we need to learn from the mistakes being made and take the necessary action to prevent similar accidents from occurring.

During this last reporting period, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) records report three accidents that occurred within the state of Arizona. The number of accidents reported this past period was fortunately, very low which may be the result of the high summer temperatures and people are not flying much and perhaps to a degree the cost of flying. I certainly hope that the Arizona pilots have not gone to other states to have accidents during this period, but are being careful in their operations.

Two of the accidents did not result in injuries and one resulted in minor injuries. One of the non-injury accidents resulted from a hard landing during a helicopter practice autorotation. The other non-injury accident was the result of running out of fuel and making a forced landing in desert terrain. The minor injury accident was the result of a forced landing after an inflight mechanical malfunction that resulted in a loss of power. We need to determine if there is a trend in these accidents so we can develop safety programs to help prevent them from reoccurring.

Additional aircraft accidents have occurred in the reporting period that had not yet been recorded and reported by the NTSB, however, they will be available and covered in the next report. Fortunately the number of accidents reported were low and only minor injuries occurred. Lets try to do what we can to continue to keep the numbers down and the damage minor in nature.

Two of the reported accidents had the final report issued and in one case the following information was taken from the preliminary report issued by the NTSB and contains only the initial information available and is subject to change and may contain errors. Any errors in the preliminary NTSB report will be corrected when the more detailed final report is completed, which could be a year or more later.

Accident Date; Friday April 12, 2013 Reported July 10, 2013
Title 14 CFR Public Use Operation
Location; Phoenix
Aircraft; Bell OH-58C
Injuries; 2 Uninjured Final Report

About 1645 MST, a Bell OH-58C landed hard during a practice autorotation near the Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix. The helicopter was being operated by, and registered to, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office as a public-use flight. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and private pilot were not injured; the helicopter sustained substantial damage.

After performing several maneuvers, the pilot was instructed by the CFI to complete the last practice autorotation of the day, which was intended to be with a power recovery. With the helicopter about 500 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot initiated the maneuver by lowering the collective and rolling the throttle to idle power. As the helicopter descended below 60 feet agl, the CFI told the pilot to increase the engine power. The pilot had a delayed response to roll the throttle back to a full power setting and the low rotor horn began to sound. The pilot further stated that he did not believe there was enough time for a power recovery and instead committed to performing a full touchdown. The helicopter touched down and slid about 6 feet. The skids dug into soft dirt and the nose pitched down, resulting in the main rotor blades severing the tail boom. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation. He additionally reported that he thought the accident may have been prevented if he had more emergency procedures training, and if he had begun the power recovery at a higher altitude.

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

No detailed CFI or pilot information was made available.

Accident Date; Tuesday May 28, 2013 Reported June 17, 2013
Title 14 CFR Part 91 Operation
Location; Page
Aircraft; Piper PA-31-350
Injuries; 5 Uninjured Final Report

The pilot stated that he and four passengers were about 4.5 hours into the flight, and were about 10 nm from their destination when the left low boost light illuminated. About 20 seconds later the left engine quit, and the pilot feathered the propeller. After about 1 minute the right low boost light illuminated, and 20 seconds later, the right engine quit. The pilot feathered the right propeller and proceeded to execute a forced landing in the desert 5 miles short of the intended destination. During the accident sequence the right engine separated from the airplane and the left wing buckled, resulting in substantial damage to the airplane. The pilot reported that the airplane had ran out of fuel, and that there were no pre impact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

No pilot information was made available.

Accident Date; Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Title 14 CFR Part 91 Operation
Location; Casa Grande
Aircraft; McDonnell Douglas Helicopter 369E
Injuries; 3 Minor Injuries Preliminary Report

On June 25, 2013, about 0657 MST, a McDonnell Douglas 369E helicopter sustained substantial damage during an off-airport hard landing, about 6 miles south-southeast of Casa Grande. The helicopter was being operated by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office as a post maintenance test flight when the accident occurred. The three occupants of the helicopter sustained minor injuries.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on June 26, the pilot said they were flying about 700 feet above the ground performing a post-maintenance test flight, when an audible "bang" was heard. The helicopter engine lost all power, and the pilot performed an autorotation. The helicopter landed hard, the right skid collapsed, and the helicopter came to rest on its right side. The tail boom and fuselage sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was being test flown with maintenance personnel on-board, following the modification of the air intake system.

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect.



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