Accident Sikorsky S-76A N15460, 31 Aug 2002
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 296698
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Time:11:19 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic S76 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Sikorsky S-76A
Owner/operator:Air Methods Corp
Registration: N15460
MSN: 760223
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Miami, Florida -   United States of America
Phase: Unknown
Departure airport:Miami, FL
Destination airport:Marathon-Florida Keys Airport, FL (MTH/KMTH)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The pilot stated that during the takeoff he became distracted by a large section of torn awning which was flapping in the wind due to the rotor's downwash, and the helicopter's main rotors impacted the top corner of the building on the right. The helicopter stopped climbing and began to settle, and the pilot said he lowered the collective, and navigated between the building and the parking garage, to the street below, applying full collective pitch to cushion the landing on the street. He then performed the emergency shutdown procedures, and he and his crew egressed from the helicopter. The helicopter incurred damage to the main rotors and fuselage. The copilot stated that he was seated on the left side clearing for obstructions and heard a bump on the right side, followed by repetitive bumps, and saw chunks of helicopter pieces fly by, as the helicopter started to settle. The copilot said that the helistop is largely surrounded by buildings and every takeoff using the accident helicopter from the Miami Children's hospital was a maximum performance takeoff, with very little margin for error. He stated that the departure required the helicopter to be flown from the helipad over an awning covering a walkway and in between buildings on both sides down a street with very little clearance from the buildings, while executing a maximum performance takeoff to climb to gain altitude as quickly as possible. He stated that the operation at the Miami Children's Hospital had been a new contract, and that his management had told the flight crews that they knew it was "tight in there, but to deal with it since they needed the work." The copilot stated that he had not received any site specific training to operate at the Miami Children's hospital helipad since his employment by the operator through the date of the accident. He said that flight related training was not conducted at the Miami Children's helistop due to the hospital's desire to reduce the noise in the residential neighborhood. On September 5, 2002, a Florida Department of Transportation (FL DOT) official and a FAA inspector examined the Miami Children's Hospital helistop, and noted that a significant amount of construction related changes had taken place since the last helistop inspection. FL DOT official stated that the construction included an elevated helipad, and that based on the new construction she requested that Miami Children's Hospital conduct a survey to determine whether the required clearance requirements to retain the helistop license had changed since issuance of the license. The Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer of the Miami Children's Hospital stated that at FL DOT's request, a survey of the helistop was performed, and upon review of the survey by the management of the Miami Children's Hospital, management's impression was that the clearance requirements for the helistop had not been met due to the new construction/expansion, and helicopter operations at the hospital was suspended until the elevated helipad was completed. A review of FAA records showed that prior to the accident, no reviews/oversight of flight operations at the Miami Children's Hospital's helistop had been conducted by the FAA. An FAA inspector stated that the operator had recently obtained the contract to operate the accident helicopter at the Miami Children's Hospital, and that prior to the accident no evaluation/oversight of the Title 14 CFR part 135 operation had not yet been performed due to it having been a new operation.

Probable Cause: The flight crew's diverted attention, inadequate visual lookout, and failure to ensure adequate main rotor clearance. Factors in the accident were the continued operation, with known obstructions in the area, and the failure of the FAA to initially certify the operation prior to its commencement.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 10 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

14-Oct-2022 09:44 ASN Update Bot Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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