View Full Version : Bell test ship crash
8th Aug 2012, 14:19
Seems like the crew handled this one well or were just lucky. Either way glad the're OK.
Bell Helicopter test aircraft forced to make emergency landing; crew safe
Two Bell Helicopter pilots flying a Bell 214ST test aircraft walked away safe after making an emergency landing Tuesday in an Ellis County cotton field.
Initial reports indicated that the aircraft, which is being used to test technology and components planned for use in new helicopter models, either lost power to the tail rotor or had the tail rotor break apart.
“It’s one of the most complicated things that can go wrong flying a helicopter,” said Jon Kettles, a Dallas aviation attorney and former Army helicopter pilot.
The tail rotor is the primary means of controlling the direction of a helicopter, which naturally wants to rotate under the main rotor.
The two-man flight crew apparently conducted a near textbook emergency landing, only to have the helicopter tip onto its side when one of the wheels dug into the soft dirt.
Photographs of the accident site show the four-bladed main rotor badly crumpled and no sign of the tail rotor. The fuselage itself does not appear to have been badly damaged.
Bell spokesman William Schroeder said the accident is under investigation by both Bell and the National Transportation Safety Board, but would not otherwise comment or provide details about the aircraft and what it was doing.
“Our focus at this time is on the safety and well being of our crew members,” Schroeder said. He did not identify the two-man crew.
“We cannot speculate as to the possible causes of the incident; however, it will be fully investigated. We are in contact with National Transportation Safety Board and fully cooperating with relevant authorities.”
The 214 ST, originally developed in the late 1970s as a military helicopter for Iran and sold commercially after the fall of the Shah, is the biggest helicopter ever produced by the Fort Worth-based company. Only 96 were ever built, according to aviation references.
In its original state the twin engine aircraft with a large version of the trademark Bell two-bladed rotor could haul 15-17 passengers with a maximum takeoff weight of about 17,500 pounds. By comparison a fully-loaded Bell 212, a 1970s twin-engine version of the original Huey models, could take off at about 11,000 pounds total weight.
The aircraft being flown Tuesday was acquired by Bell less than two years ago to use as a vehicle for testing of components for new aircraft, particularly the 525 Relentless commercial helicopter that the company announced in February that it planned to develop.
The aircraft was probably testing main rotor components, was heavily instrumented and transmitting live data back to Bell engineers on the ground at the time of the accident, according to a source close to the company.
With that data engineers should be able to determine what happened, the sequence of events, and perhaps even why, the source said, although the tail rotor assembly had not yet been found late in the day.
Bell spokesman Schroeder declined to comment on whether the accident would be a set back to the new helicopter development effort.
- Bob Cox
Read more here: Sky Talk: Bell Helicopter test aircraft forced to make emergency landing; crew safe (http://blogs.star-telegram.com/sky_talk/2012/08/bell-test-aircraft-down-no-injuries-.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy)
8th Aug 2012, 14:45
good everyone is ok :D
8th Aug 2012, 14:52
Handled it well?
Well....handled it maybe!
But then whenever you can run away...walk away...even crawl away....and the aircraft be repairable....it was a successful outcome.
Helicopter pilots uninjured after crash landing in Ellis County | kens5.com San Antonio (http://www.kens5.com/news/Pilots-survive-helicopter-crash-in-Ellis-County-165300306.html?gallery=y&img=1&c=y#/news/Pilots-survive-helicopter-crash-in-Ellis-County-165300306.html?gallery=y&img=2&c=y&c=y)
8th Aug 2012, 15:25
Looks like a 214ST, isn't it ?
8th Aug 2012, 16:32
My guess - 212
8th Aug 2012, 16:36
Doghouse is from a 412... 4 blades, but it has wheels. The three large windows on the side dont help...
My guess is 412ST :)
8th Aug 2012, 16:55
Maybe the former LN-OMM 214ST.
8th Aug 2012, 16:59
A bit of Plastic Padding and it will be right as rain!
8th Aug 2012, 17:06
214ST test aircraft with 4BR, associated with the 525 program. Being referred to as a '414' by the local press.
8th Aug 2012, 17:08
I stand corrected, you are spot on, but that rotor looks weird.
8th Aug 2012, 18:28
Definitely a 214st
8th Aug 2012, 19:26
Some video footage of the aircraft here:
Chopper crash in Ellis County by Jon Sasser on Socialcam - Aug 07 (http://socialcam.com/v/IzGTySGA?autostart=true&utm_source=embed)
A wheeled 214ST with what looks like a four blade main rotor or could it be the 525's five blade rotor?
The blades are "cuffed" at the mast end....my guess is the 525 rotorhead test bed.
8th Aug 2012, 20:21
Bell have owned this ship for two years and it is being used to develop parts for the Relentless. Four blade head heavily intsrument for data colletion. T/R failure considered here as a possible cause.
8th Aug 2012, 23:35
They handled it better then you ever could! You were not there so do not comment.
9th Aug 2012, 00:19
Has the Yankey/zulu rotor system. on an old 214st.
9th Aug 2012, 02:49
If I were CHC, I would be very annoyed that it was still painted in my colours
9th Aug 2012, 03:01
They handled it better then you ever could! You were not there so do not comment.
Oh dear. Incoming!! :eek:
9th Aug 2012, 04:11
bell 214ST - Helicopter Database (http://www.helis.com/database/model/651/)
Is it old LN-OMM from Norway? Thought it was white with a red band midship when it flew for HS.
9th Aug 2012, 04:15
I have two folks on my ignore list....and as Tcabot is at top of my list....I do not have to read what he posts here as it is a pure waste of time to do so.
Thus....one simply considers the source and ignores the comment if wishing to remain polite.
He can talk to himself all he wants as the only one that he bothers is himself. I fear he does seem to lose even those arguments as well.
Some folks just never get the knack of good Sarcasm as it is too deep for them to understand being of shallow levels of sophistication as they are.
9th Aug 2012, 16:15
Thats a bit harsh, with the TR missing and possibly trgbx too I think they did a great job.
Seen plenty of worse outcomes in that situation.
Oh yeah and by the way Sasless, good luck with a fast run-on with little 214ST wheels in a farmers field. Or did you not notice that...
9th Aug 2012, 16:26
Perhaps some cannot grasp a bit of humor.
Did I not say something about running, walking, and crawling being the definition of "Satisfactory"?
But as to my thoughts re Tcabot....no...he earns such a response each time he puts his fingers to the keyboard.
I also recall I hold you about one notch above him as well.
9th Aug 2012, 18:41
From flightglobal :
" Bell Helicopter lost the testbed aircraft for the transmission system of the company's new 525R Relentless in a crash on 7 August in Avalon, Texas.
The Bell 214ST (N409SB) had just completed a right turn when the flightcrew reported hearing a "bang", according to a preliminary report filed with the US National Transportation Safety Board. The chase aircraft informed the crew that "something had departed the tail of the helicopter", the NTSB says. The 214ST crew autorotated to land in a field nearby, but the helicopter "yawed and rolled right on landing". The flightcrew was not injured in the accident.
The Bell 214ST is used by the company for research and development flights. It was assigned to perform risk reduction tests for the transmission system on the Bell 525R, a super-medium twin."
9th Aug 2012, 21:25
Loud bang at the back - C of G still in limits or at least controllable - Perhaps though not yet stated is uncommanded yawing - Land quick is the message - Field within auto reach - Go man go - Looks like a soft field - Go for zero speed touchdown, Check agreed - Final briefs on the way down.
Auto with power on - at the bottom, pull pitch - A/C starts yawing - Second pilot already briefed and does - snaps power off - yaw stops - A/C settles - Everyone gets out take after photos and medications.
If Sasless hadn't done that at the very least in his sim instructing days I'll eat my hat.
9th Aug 2012, 22:37
Crash testing? Pass.
9th Aug 2012, 23:02
Top end .. in re your scenario ... I might have asked the C/P to pull the throttles as I enter the the flare, before that last pull, but that depends on if that chase aircraft was able to tell me "something fell off the back, Man!"
They walked away, which is good.
9th Aug 2012, 23:06
I also recall I hold you about one notch above him as well.
It must be a very small notch... :E
10th Aug 2012, 00:07
Why ask the CP to roll fool with the throttles? :OThe Bell school ST had the normal setup. two stacked on the collective.:rolleyes:
10th Aug 2012, 01:04
Your hat is very safe.
Done them...taught them....landed safe on some....crashed some....but only in the Sim.
Was present at a Tail Rotor failure approaching a hover in a UH-1H Huey one time. I rolled the throttles off for the guy flying....after he seemed unwilling to do so for some unknown reason. We got off with just a pair of bent skids as we were still spinning to the right when we hit a bit firmly as he was slow to get the Collective pulled. No big deal as he was reacting and not doing.
The amount of turning force generated by the rotor system under near full power is amazing....and the immediate relief felt in the rate of turn or yawing when you remove that Torque is also amazing. It conveys the message why removing engine power is usually a good thing if you can when these things happen to you.
There are no absolutes and I would suggest what you do is driven by the way the aircraft is reacting to the failure. For sure, being prepared, and thinking about what you are doing is the key to survival.
Some RFM's would suggest a run on landing at some nice flat paved surface in this situation....or for a Tail Rotor failure that results in a lot of "No Power Pedal" being needed. (Counter Clockwise turning rotors....Right Pedal).
That means you get to Terra Firma with lots of ground speed and Power applied to the Rotor System.....as compared to doing an Autorotation with the power to the Rotor system removed, and very near Zero GS and ROD at touchdown.
I lean towards the latter method....because if it goes egg shaped....the forces involved are minimized....and hopefully the outcome is much less dramatic.
I wonder if the Chase Aircraft was filming the flight of the Test Aircraft.....if so...that might make for a very interesting video.
Depending upon what departed the aircraft....and the reaction of the aircraft following the loss of components....would determine the Immediate Action required.
First blush would suggest keep the ol' girl as level as possible, nose pointing as straight ahead as possible, probably by lowering collective and rolling off the throttles....then follow up with what seemed right at the time.
Given a huge Texas sized peanut patch in front of me....I would have gone to the dirt in autorotation....attmepted to do as they did....get the forward speed as slow as possible at touchdown.
As seen....when the ROD and GS are near Zero at touchdown....the results are pretty darn good.
The 214 has lots of rotor inertia so that is not a problem.
Also....these guys are probably pretty darn sharp too.
If it had been a Bell Flight School crew of Instructors....I wonder how it would have turned out as they do autorotations by the bag load each week.
The CG shift is one of the things we do not know from the reporting so far....or how the aircraft reacted when all this happened. One thing we do know they decided parking it as quickly as possible was the right idea. If this had happened at night offshore in really bad weather....I wonder if they would have tried to fly it back ashore rather than try to do an Emergency Ditching in the water.
10th Aug 2012, 08:06
I wonder if the aircraft is rebuildable or a write off...
10th Aug 2012, 09:58
It'll buff out.
10th Aug 2012, 15:19
In that case I'm buying share in T-Cut!! They are going to need a shed load.
10th Aug 2012, 18:16
There are tail-rotor failures,and techniques to possibly fly the aircraft to a safe landing..and then there is tail-rotor and probably gearbox loss...and that will make your eyeballs `pop`.Depending on the power and airspeed at the time you`ll probably yaw about 60-90 deg,and the nose will go down,and the stick will be on the back stop. If you take a basic UH-1,the moment arm is about 480ins to the T/R,and an approx weight of 50 lbs for t/r/part of gearbox,you`ve just lost about 24000 ins/lbs of Moment arm.I`m sure someone can work out the C OF G change.If ,type dependent,you can get pax/crew as far aft as possible,you may be able to recover better longitudinal control,and if you dump the lever,the a/c will pitch down more so.Also, the driveshaft may also start to `flail` and chew up the back-end as well.
Anyway,it may be something that can be `simulated`,but worth thinking about...glad the crew are safe...
Ah,how do I know all this,.? well the pictures of a Whirlwind that I prepared earlier(47 yrs ago) are on page 15 of `Rotorheads around the World`(not videos)....
10th Aug 2012, 18:37
I preferred flying the machines at an aft CG whenever possible....just for that reason. You might as well plan ahead if it costs nothing.
10th Aug 2012, 19:41
Is that called hind sight :}
10th Aug 2012, 19:47
As you go thru life...you grab onto wee bits of wisdom as you go.
Remember the Bell Huey series history of shedding tail feathers...starting with entire tail booms and working its way finally to the 90 degree gear box and Tail Rotor and you will see where it was easy to come to that view of things.
The early model Cobra's were notorious for that. They killed more pilots than did the Vietnamese.
Fort Rucker lost two Huey"s in one day to lost tail booms. They then did a Mod that beefed up the mounting bolts and structure where it all comes together.
One of the disadvantages to a very large fleet of relatively same aged aircraft is when problems are discovered it can affect a fair number of aircraft at about the same time.
There was a GOM operator of 206's who lost two aircraft the same day due to transmission mount failures....so it happens in the civilian world too.
11th Aug 2012, 12:39
Thanks Icedriver, already passed the crash test. Flew it home the next day after they put a new short shaft innit. For a newbie on these columns just returned from the ice?, it'd probably be Jolly Exciting on the ice, if you couldn't gauge your height though??
Sasless has described most of the stuff we do to a tee;- an exercise of arriving at nothing with nothing. We all got over the run on caper for both the T/R drive failure problem and the simple jammed pedals or similar - oh, about thirty years ago. He's right though some AFM's still have it sitting right there to look at.
Both the flight instructing standards and aircraft manufacturers should have moved with the times and onto safer methods.
Zero zero is best. I mentioned the use of the throttle at low level as I was thinking of a smart pointy end crew, high wheel loading in a soft field and trying to limit any yaw upon arrival. For sure any of the hundreds of times that I have done them in practice with the throttle locked off past detent you still get that - follow the rotor system yaw - for a bit. That's where I was coming from.
I would really like to have the privilege of trying more ideas out in a sim, but don't ideas have to be put into a sim with real data first.
Another thing most of you guys are talking about is the nose dropping in auto, sure we can all prove that but why not just go out and practice a few times, hold the cyclic still;- throttle off throttle on quickly, see what happens. A simple matter of drag, thrust relationships.
I too like to have my A/C set up with very aft C of G, not only a figment of the imagination when operating close to trees, but with big tourists in the front of a KH4 for example and getting low on fuel, - ho ho. -- HO.
Knew my hat was safe and just as well, coming off the back of the first mustering round, full of bull dust, blood and guts and mountain oysters throwback.
Oh and BTW jonny baby, you can back it in, one blade strike and it's totaled. That there wreck would be like a parachutist that forgot the brolly, every bone innit broken. There's a good couple of photos around of what a decent blade strike (just one) can do to a big helicopter, taken in Western Australia. Massive photo the strike photo, taken right at the instant the blade end exploded on a steel light pole.
11th Aug 2012, 13:40
I think that one was wasted.
11th Aug 2012, 16:51
Maybe I should have said Hiney sight? :E