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Helicopter down at Redhill

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Helicopter down at Redhill

Old 4th Jun 2011, 20:20
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Helicopter down at Redhill

My EC120 G-FEDA suffered an accident this evening at Redhill. Three POB - all safe and (I understand) uninjured. No-one on the ground was hurt. The machine looks like a write-off. CAA informed.

The machine appears to have spun and caught the ground, leading to dynamic rollover, but I did not see it happen so this is from witnesses, who may comment later.

When I got down to the airfield she was on her side. The blades are shattered down to the root, though all three roots still attached to the hub. Tail broke off, etc, etc. One blade section was thrown part-way through the wall on the first floor of an office building close by, another fragment went through the window.

The cabin structure is completely intact, and protected the occupants who exited by jettisoning the left front door.

When lifted, no fuel seems to have escaped (about 120kg on board).

Still, I don't think this will polish out:

Last edited by John R81; 5th Jun 2011 at 15:36.
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 20:48
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John R81,

Commiserations: what a sad thing to happen to such a nice machine
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 20:50
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By chance the duty fire crew were watching GFEDA land and saw it start to "spin quickly" and were en-route almost immediately. The surface wind was not very helpful being generally easterly 10 gust 25 knots.

Anyway the result was this

luckily everyone got out OK.

Hope the insurance pays out quickly John.
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 21:41
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Nice it happened so close to the hangar....saves time on getting started on the repairs....and getting over the hedge to the Pub!

Glad all aboard are okay....and perhaps in need of an undie wear change.
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 22:02
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very brave to commit photos you must be really shook up. been out in a jet ranger today and the wind was very unhelpful could not make its mind up.
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 22:09
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Glad to here occupants safe, I had the pleasure of a few hours in G-FEDA and sorry to here this.
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Old 4th Jun 2011, 22:23
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John R81

Oh my G-D. I've seen your machine around and its a stunning aircraft
So sorry to see it end this way. Although I'm no expert, I reckon that you're initial assessment of it being a write off/not likely to polish out is pretty accurate.

Thankfully, no-one was injured and I suspect the pilot isn't feeling great this evening (I'm sure you're not over the moon either) but I've always been told that every landing you walk away from is a good landing. Some are clearly better than others though !!!

Hope you manage to replace it and get airborne again soon.

Best regards

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Old 4th Jun 2011, 22:27
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Thanks for your good wishes.

Yes - hole in the wall pic 1 is a 1m section of rotor blade.

All are OK, Pilot is understandably shook up.

Mistakes can happen, and in helicopters it goes from "awesome" to "awful" in fractions of a second. That is what insurance is for. Bent metal (composite?) and be replaced.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 00:50
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An AS332L G-BKZG rolled on a ships helideck some years ago, with a lot more damage and was rebuilt and still flying. im sure this one could be also. just maybe not economical for the insurance.

the phoenix may rise again!
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 09:59
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John R81 - thanks for posting pics and comment before rumours and speculation got in the way of the facts. As a fellow Redhill helicopterer I am used to seeing G-FEDA around. A very pretty machine and I'm really sorry to see her like this.

Well done to the Redhill fire crew by all accounts for getting there so quickly and I'm glad all the occupants walked away in one piece. I hope they enjoyed their pint!
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 10:02
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John - truly sorry to hear about your pride and joy, but thank goodness everyone walked away. Beautiful machine that inspired my own search for a 120. If you're looking for a lift up to CPOP, I'll happily be your taxi driver and we can talk 120s . Presumably, you'll be looking for another one...

It was quite windy yesterday - 20 gusting 35. I'd be interested to hear if this had anything to do with it, particularly close to the hangar.

All the best
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 10:22
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Greetings from Australia. Very sad to see your lovely machine smashed up. You have a very good attitude though, as everyone was OK, and you can get a new machine - Eurocopter no doubt will look after you.

May I suggest you stay with the same colour - looks fantastic.

Upset on your behalf !

Kind regards,
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 11:49
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Hi John..Just heard via Facebk from Kevin and Lee

Truly gutted for you (and me) mate ...but glad all POB were safe/ no bystanders injured.

Note: The replacement has to be the same colours or the T-shirts I have will have to be changed

All the best,
PM or call me if you like,
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 12:34
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Any similarities?

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Old 5th Jun 2011, 12:37
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It's a sight I never get used too, a wrecked chopper laying on it's side. It always reminds me of a fish out of water. And it can happen in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I think if I blink the machine will be upright again with blades, but it never happens.
We had a gent join up to the Sydney R'Heads a month or two ago. Put himself on the email list for an inbox full of our idle banter. He was the proud owner of a brand new fadec squirrel with less than fifty hours. It caught on fire one Friday afternoon at YSBK & burned to nothing, just the tail fin left. Our new recruit got away with singed knees & a broken collar bone.
In true R'Head spirit he gets the "RotorHead most likely" award for this year. In this case the R'Head most likely to operate the BBQ at our next get together. I've ordered him a copy of the David Sedaris 2009 best seller 'When you are engulfed in flames'. A little light reading while he picks himself up, dusts himself off & climbs back into the saddle.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 13:05
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Looking for the positive, it seems the "Crashworthy fuel system" claim by Eurocopter for the EC120 Was right. And the passenger cell stood up well to the roll, the seats and restraints performed well.

The accident 22Clipper mentioned may not have started too differently, but here a fuel fire with one passenger a Senior Citizen would have led to a different end. (best wishes to the 350 pilot, broken bones and burns - not funny)

Present thought is to look for another EC120 - if things do go wrong the a modern design of machine just has to protect you more than something from the 70's.

Last edited by John R81; 6th Jun 2011 at 11:25.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 13:45
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It was quite windy yesterday - 20 gusting 35. I'd be interested to hear if this had anything to do with it, particularly close to the hangar.
Interesting thought. Wondering about tail rotor authority margins on the 120? As has been pointed out here by many, some helicopters have plenty and some not quite enough.

It is often said of these situations that "there are those who have and those who will." The goal is to remain in the latter category as long as possible. With this in mind, and as a relative newbie to helicopters, I have established a "personal minimum" of 25 kts peak wind as one no go criteria, at least for awhile (without an instructor on board). (B407)
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 14:33
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or this again?!

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Old 5th Jun 2011, 14:54
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John, condolences.

I must say I am impressed with your attitude.

Hopefully you can get another machine quickly.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 15:56
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Hands on 123 - design change since that to reduce the risk of similar happening again. I would not say it is impossible, but would personally go to "unlikely"

Fly 7, since the Swansea accident there have been (a couple of) mods to move the CoG backward. FEDA had all the necesary mods as she flew passenger transport work. Similarities are really "dynamic rollover" finish but I think the start of events may simply be wind catching the left side of the tail and starting a harsh spin tot he left.

FEDA was landing to face West, wind from the East 10G25kt at the time. I personally don't see that the proximity of the hangers would be an issue in these circumstances - also I flew her earlier in the day and landed same pad in similar conditions. Certainly a day for fast feet and an eye to where the wind is hitting that big sail of a tail, but not an issue with the hangers.

AAIB report will be filed. Will wait to see what the pilot remembers of events. Even though I saw the machine yesterday evening I would be speculating as to cause of the spin starting - having not spoken with the pilot; he had been sent home as in shock (who wouldn't be!).
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