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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 153588
Last updated: 25 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic MD60 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
MD Helicopters MD 600N
Owner/operator:MD Helicopters Inc.
Registration: N70457
MSN: RN057
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:6 mi E of Fountain Hills, AZ -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Falcon Field, AZ (FFZ)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
A staff pilot for the manufacturer was providing a sales demonstration flight to a potential customer's pilot when yaw control of the helicopter was lost, it entered a spin, collided with the ground, and rolled over. During the flight the customer's typical aerial application pest control flight profile was to be flown. The customer pilot flew Bell 206's currently in the mission and had no experience in the NOTAR anti-torque system. The maneuver was a simulated aerial application pass followed by a turn around. The manufacturer's pilot said the maneuver was very docile and consisted of a pass down a creek bed at 60 knots and 50 feet. The customer pilot initiated a gentle cyclic pull-up to a 10- to 15-degree nose up attitude while entering a right turn as the helicopter decelerated. At the 90 degree point in the turn, the helicopter was at 40 to 50 knots with a 30-degree or less bank angle to the right. As the nose came around in the turn, the nose tucked down to about 20 degrees below the horizon. The manufacturer's pilot took over the controls and added near full aft cyclic to level the nose; at this point, he received a low rotor warning horn (indicating a rotor droop at 95 percent or lower). Coincident with the low rotor warning, the helicopter began a right yaw rate. He added full left pedal, but the yaw rate continued at what he described as a "slow pedal turn rate," eventually completing 4 to 6 complete revolutions. At this point the helicopter began descending and he added collective. He immediately got a "power" audio warning, indicating that he was exceeding the upper power limit of the engine. The right yaw rate also increased with collective input. The pilot then modulated the collective between the low rotor warning and the excessive power warning in an attempt to both control the yaw and stop the descent. As he lowered the collective and the rotor speed began to build, the yaw would slow, but the helicopter then began descending faster. As he added collective to slow the descent, the yaw rate would increase. As the helicopter neared the ground, the yaw finally stopped; however, the helicopter was translating sideways toward a berm. The helicopter touched down on the right skid against the berm and it rolled over. The manufacturer's pilot said his hands were following on the controls as the customer pilot flew and he did not perceive any unusual control inputs. He further stated that his feet were about 1 inch from the anti-torque pedals and he did not feel any inputs from the customer pilot on the pedals. Based on his extensive flight test experience in this helicopter, the manufacturer's pilot believes that the aft cyclic input to correct the nose down pitching moment induced a rotor droop, and that the droop was the initiating event in the yaw rate onset. He does not know how low the rotor speed went, but the warning is triggered at 95 percent Nr. The lower limit of the Nr green arc is at 90 percent. The NOTAR anti-torque control system uses air from a pedal controlled jet thruster nozzle on the end of the tail boom to provide anti-torque control. Additional yaw control is provided by vertical stabilizers, which are largely effective only above 20 to 30 knots. Air is supplied to the thruster by a fan driven by a power takeoff shaft from the main transmission. There is a direct relationship between the speed of the main rotor and the speed of the fan. The pilot said he believes that the initial yaw onset was because the rotor drooped low enough to slow the fan below the speed which could supply the necessary air volume to the thruster to control the yaw and they were not fast enough for the vertical stabilizers to have any effect. After the occupants had extricated themselves from the wreckage, the customer pilot asked the pilot what had happened. He replied to them that he didn't know what happened and added, "Maybe we should have turned to the left instead." The helicopter's FAA approved Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) contains several warnings about low speed maneuvering.
Probable Cause: the manufacturer's pilot's failure to maintain yaw control and main rotor speed while recovering from an unusual attitude induced by the customer pilot's inadequate control inputs while maneuvering at low altitude. The manufacturer's pilot's inadequate supervision of the flight is also causal. A factor in the accident was the customer pilot's lack a familiarity with the NOTAR yaw control system.




Revision history:

27-Feb-2013 10:23 TB Added
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
10-Dec-2017 12:23 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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