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R44 crash San Antonio loss of power and/or a wire strike

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R44 crash San Antonio loss of power and/or a wire strike

Old 29th Dec 2019, 17:54
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R44 crash San Antonio loss of power and/or a wire strike

This happened a couple of weeks ago, crashed at a busy downtown intersection, pilot and 2 pax walked away with minor injuries.Helicopter carrying 3 people clips power lines, witnesses recount 'terrifying' scene

SAN ANTONIO — A helicopter carrying three people lost power and had to make an emergency landing in the middle of a busy intersection south of downtown Saturday night, a scene police said could have been much worse.

Police said the pilot and two passengers were already out of the helicopter by the time they arrived at corner of East Southcross and South Presa a little before 5 p.m.

"Considering the situation, this is the best outcome," San Antonio Police Officer Brandon Pratt said, adding that all three on board suffered only minor injuries and no one else on the ground was hurt.


Pratt said the pilot of the helicopter told police he felt and heard a bang as the aircraft lost power, forcing the chopper into power lines as they made an emergency landing.


The helicopter's registered owner is listed as Alamo Helicopter Tours San Antonio according to the online records with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Witnesses said the emergency landing looked "straight out of a movie." Another called it "terrifying."

Police said the FAA will be involved in the investigation.

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 31st Dec 2019 at 01:10. Reason: Add quote: this helps Rotorheads know what you're posting about!
nomorehelosforme is offline  
Old 30th Dec 2019, 09:11
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No indication of the cause of power loss - a very lucky outcome for those involved, somewhat pertinent to the thread about low level fairground rides over congested areas.
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Old 30th Dec 2019, 16:47
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Thankfully there doesn't appear to have been any fire.
R
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Old 30th Dec 2019, 16:52
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Originally Posted by RINKER View Post
Thankfully there doesn't appear to have been any fire.
R
Since the introduction of bladder type fuel tanks the amount of post crash fires has been dramatically reduced.
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Old 30th Dec 2019, 17:09
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
...somewhat pertinent to the thread about low level fairground rides over congested areas.
Why pick on that particular type of operation? This could and has happened to anyone operating over congested areas on any kind of operation in any kind of helicopter, and at any realistic operating altitude. ENG, public safety, tours, whatever. They are all typically flying at or about 1000AGL, give or take, avoiding the flow of fixed wing traffic. Even if they were up at 2000AGL, any decent size city is going to be more than a few miles in extent. You are not always going be able to glide your way out of the problem space, which is going to be full of buildings, fences, trees, wires, cars and every other kind of obstacle.

Everybody walked away = good auto Hope I do as well if the time ever comes
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Old 30th Dec 2019, 18:43
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Why pick on that particular type of operation?
because an engine failure at low level over a congested area gives you few options - at least from 1000' you might have a choice where you end up.

I know it doesn't fit your narrative but low level over congested areas carries additional risks, whether you like it or not.
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Old 30th Dec 2019, 20:32
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So Crab, do you happen to know at what altitude this particular incident started at? If not, then your comments, while generally relevant, are not necessarily relevant to this particular incident, and are merely assumptions at this point. If you do know what altitude this particular incident started at I'd be interested to know as well.
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 04:55
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Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post
So Crab, do you happen to know at what altitude this particular incident started at? If not, then your comments, while generally relevant, are not necessarily relevant to this particular incident, and are merely assumptions at this point. If you do know what altitude this particular incident started at I'd be interested to know as well.
What altitude it started at is irrelevant and just distracts from the point being made.
They were lucky, having hit wires and ending up pointing the wrong way, it could have ended badly which is particularly pertinant to other questionable low level operations previously discussed.
I understand Robinson aficionados always want to find a silver lining when their craft are involved, but Crab's point seems obvious.

Altitude = options.
While that is not only applicable to fairground joyrides, it is definitely relevant.
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 06:37
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Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post
If you do know what altitude this particular incident started at I'd be interested to know as well.

Hello aa777888, you can find some elements here : http://fr.flightaware.com/live/flight/N440AH

.
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 09:29
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Looks like above 1000' - so he should have had some options - maybe the road was the biggest looking 'open' area he thought he could make. very lucky no-one on the ground was hurt then.

aa777888 - just imagine that power loss in that video from the fairground rides - from a couple of hundred feet over the areas he was flying - if you can't see the stupidity of it then perhaps you should get a new hobby.
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 12:08
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HeliHenri: thank you for that URL. I have highlighted in yellow the tail end of the track where it turns North just before the auto.

Bell Ringer and Crab: of course I understand the correlation between options and altitude. But until the data that HeliHenri pointed out was available to us, you, or at least Crab, was assuming that low altitude was a significant factor in this incident. Such assumptions were unfair until and unless they were proven. As it happens, it would appear that that assumption may be correct. Assuming (my assumption, this time) that FlightAware altitude data is MSL, it would certainly appear that this helicopter was quite low, given that KSSF field elevation is 577ft. This puts them only 700 or 800 AGL for much of the flight, and the last few minutes in particular. KSAT is at 809ft MSL.



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Old 31st Dec 2019, 15:21
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Just goes to show in Europe one cant fly over a congested area in a single engine unless you are above 1000ft and be able to alight without danger to people or property below, makes it look like a sensible rule !
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 16:20
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Just goes to show in Europe one cant fly over a congested area in a single engine unless you are above 1000ft and be able to alight without danger to people or property below, makes it look like a sensible rule !
It's a similar law in the US, CFR 91.119 outlines all. But the US is much more aviation friendly than the UK thanks to sentiments like yours.
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Old 31st Dec 2019, 17:00
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Crab,

Question for you......"What is the minimum height above ground must one be in a single engine helicopter (that includes multi-engine aircraft flying on a single engine for any reason) to be able to determine a safe landing area should the sole remaining engine cease operation suddenly without any warning?"

Follow up question....."What constitutes a "safe landing" in an emergency situation under discussion (sudden engine failure)?"

Last question.....Must the aircraft suffer no damage....occupants no injury however minor....no harm to people on the ground....and finally....no damage to property on the ground to include trees, bushes, sod or power lines?"

We all need some commonality of definition here so we can talk about apples and apples.....rather than apples and oranges.
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Old 1st Jan 2020, 09:57
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Sasless - the answer to your first question depends on the terrain you are flying over.

Safe landing would be one that isn’t a crash so ideally pax and airframe undamaged.

In reality, if you can walk away from it without killing or injuring anyone then damage to the aircraft and landing area can be sorted by the insurance companies.

Most of my flying over congested areas has been London, which, as you know has specific routes and heights - often below 1000’ all - but follow areas where a safe landing could be achieved.

When doing so in a single, I have always been very conscious of where I would go in the event of a power loss - and that with a high inertia rotor system on an aircraft I regularly flew PFLs and EOLs in.

Low level - let’s say below 500’ - all in a low inertia rotor helicopter over a congested area with no prescribed safe routes and few clear areas is not my idea of sensible.

Happy New Year by the way
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Old 1st Jan 2020, 11:08
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Originally Posted by Sir HC View Post
It's a similar law in the US, CFR 91.119 outlines all. But the US is much more aviation friendly than the UK thanks to sentiments like yours.
One problem here in the US is that people need to go back and READ 91.119 every once in a while. It's pretty common on a BFR that I'll ask about minimum altitudes and I'll get the answer that "there aren't any for helicopters" ( and so then we get to spend 15 minutes talking about what 91.119 actually says )

For instance, 91.119(b) calls out a 1,000 foot minimum over a congested area ( and while there have been some pretty wild differences in how "congested" has been interpreted, over major or minor city centers is obviously a congested area). While it is true that paragraph (d) gives helicopters some latitude for operating lower, it has been pointed out to me that while paragraph (a) ( which discusses min altitudes when you have an engine failure ) says you must cause no UNDUE hazard to ppl/property on the ground, paragraph (d) does not use that word. Some people think this is significant, i.e when operating below the 500/1000 foot minimums, you must present absolutely no hazard to the ppl/property below you. Which is actually a pretty reasonable interpretation in my mind ( with great flexibility comes great responsibility ).

I do enjoy that we can fly over major metropolitan areas in singe engine helicopters here in the US. I wish more helicopter pilots would think carefully about 91.119 when choosing at which altitude they are going to exercise that privilege, as well as how much noise they will be making... And for goodness sake, if you can't autorotate to a safe landing at any point in the flight ( except maybe to & landing ) then you are TOO DAMN LOW!

( btw, people also tend to skip over the very first sentence in 91.119 which starts with "Except when necessary for takeoff or landing" which can lead to hours of fun hanger flying discussions as to how THAT modifies the following paragraphs).

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Old 1st Jan 2020, 11:18
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I am fairly liberal in my definition of "safe landing"......and it focuses upon me and my passengers and innocent bystanders....and not the aircraft or property on the ground.

As long as we are all standing around with knees shaking, hands trembling, waiting for the Whisky to be passed along.....then it was a safe landing.

Engines quit....helicopters are just reusable containers that are used to protect the contents.

That is my point.....if you and atop some guy's garden shed but no one gets hurt.....insurance can sort that out later.

Yes....prevention is the key....and that is where judgement and not regulation is the answer.

Flying the Huey around the UK I always sought the safe path even if hot the direct route and there were many urban areas I would not fly over unless I was at such a height that I could make it to a clear area.

I see it being a Risk Analysis issue.....considering the reliability of modern engines....the length of exposure to less than ideal landing sites....and the like that should determine your flight path.

The last factor has to do with the issue of whether you have full control of the aircraft.....as it is not just engine failures that can put you into a need to land immediately......how do you factor that into the discussion?

Happy New Year to you!
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Old 1st Jan 2020, 18:21
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Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post
Assuming (my assumption, this time) that FlightAware altitude data is MSL, it would certainly appear that this helicopter was quite low, given that KSSF field elevation is 577ft. This puts them only 700 or 800 AGL for much of the flight, and the last few minutes in particular. KSAT is at 809ft MSL.
Further researching my assumption, it is not entirely correct. The FlightAware altitude data is the raw encoder output and therefore referenced to an altimeter setting of 29.92. The weather at KSSF at the time of the incident was:

METAR KSSF 142253Z 13005KT 10SM CLR 26/07 A2970 RMK AO2 SLP055 T02610067=

Doing the pressure altitude conversion, it would then seem that the bulk of that flight was at approx. 1500ft MSL, or about 900 AGL, give or take. Still pretty low, but I just felt like that "i" needed to be dotted.
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