NEWS | Newsletter #362

AAR S-61 Accident near Palm Bay, Florida

AAR Airlift, subsidiary of AAR Corp, confirmed that a Sikorsky S-61 with 3 crew members and no passengers on board was involved in an accident in Melbourne/Palm Bay, Florida

AAR Airlift, subsidiary of AAR Corp, confirmed that a Sikorsky S-61 with 3 crew members and no passengers on board was involved in an accident in Melbourne/Palm Bay, Florida

AAR, September 06, 2016 - WOOD DALE, Illinois – AAR Airlift Group, Inc., subsidiary of AAR Corp., confirmed that a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, operating in the Melbourne/Palm Bay, Florida, area, was involved in an accident at approximately 13:40 local time.

There were three crew members and no passengers on board the aircraft at the time the accident occurred.

Company officials are working closely with local, state, and federal authorities to execute an emergency response effort.

AAR Airlift Group’s overriding concern at this time is for those on board the aircraft and their families. We are coordinating and cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and may not release any other information at this time.

About AAR: AAR (NYSE: AIR) is a global aftermarket solutions company that employs more than 4,500 people in over 20 countries. Based in Wood Dale, Illinois, AAR supports commercial aviation and government customers through two operating segments: Aviation Services and Expeditionary Services. AAR’s Aviation Services include inventory management; parts supply; OEM parts distribution; aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul; and component repair. AAR’s Expeditionary Services include airlift operations; mobility systems; and command and control centers in support of military and humanitarian missions

NTSB, September 14, 2006 - Identification: ERA16FA311. Accident occurred Tuesday, September 06, 2016 in Palm Bay, FL. Aircraft: SIKORSKY S61, registration: N805AR. Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 6, 2016, about 1340 eastern daylight time, a Sikorsky S-61N, N805AR, was destroyed when it impacted a field under unknown circumstances near Palm Bay, Florida. The airline transport pilot, commercial copilot, and maintenance crewmember were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to EP Aviation LLC and operated by AAR Airlift Group as a post-maintenance flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed Melbourne International Airport (MLB), Melbourne, Florida, at 1324.

According to the operator, the helicopter's fore/aft pitch servo was recently removed and replaced. Subsequently, a functional check flight (FCF) was performed, which included maximum performance maneuvers at maximum gross weight. Ground witness videos recorded the helicopter performing maneuvers near the accident site uneventfully, about 100 feet above ground level. The helicopter then flew an orbit around the accident site about the same altitude, before the video ended. There were no known witnesses to the impact sequence.

The helicopter came to rest upright in a field with no debris path noted. The wreckage was oriented about a magnetic heading of 190 degrees. A postcrash fire consumed the cockpit and cabin. The tailboom transition section exhibited partial thermal damage and the tailboom remained intact. The five main rotor blades and five tailrotor blades remained attached to their respective rotor hubs. The main and tailrotor blades exhibited signatures consistent with low rotational energy. Four of the five main rotor blades exhibited partial thermal damage and one main rotor blade exhibited thermal damage along its entire span. One tailrotor blade was fractured about 1 foot outboard of the attachment bolt; the outboard section of the separated blade was found on the ground next to the tailrotor. Another tailrotor blade was partially separated about 1 foot outboard of the attachment bolt and its tip was embedded in the ground. Drivetrain continuity was confirmed between the main transmission and the tailrotor gearbox.

Both engines remained attached to the airframe and exhibited fire damage. Examination of the engines revealed that both engine stage one compressor blades exhibited little or no leading edge damage. Both engine fuel control units were found with their respective control shaft in the "FLIGHT" position. Both engines were separated from the main gearbox at the aft end of the high-speed shaft. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft helicopter. He also held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. In addition, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for rotorcraft helicopter and instrument rotorcraft. The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued on December 5, 2015. According to company records, as of January 1, 2016, the pilot had accrued a total flight experience of approximately 6,053 hours; of which, 5,548 hours were in helicopters and 1,532 of those hours were in the same make and model as the accident helicopter.

The copilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on May 16, 2016. According to company records, as of July 31, 2016, the copilot had accrued a total flight experience of 4,090 hours; all of which were in helicopters.

The 41-seat capacity, tricycle-gear helicopter, serial number 61717, was manufactured in 1974. It was powered by two General Electric CT58-140-2, 1500-horsepower turboshaft engines. The helicopter was maintained under a continuous airworthiness program. Its most recent inspection was a phase five check, which was completed on August 25, 2016. At that time, the airframe had accumulated 40,296.2 total hours of operation. The No. 1 engine had accumulated 711.6 hours since major overhaul and the No. 2 engine had accumulated 133.4 since light overhaul. The helicopter had flown about 1.2 hours, from the time of the last inspection, until the accident flight. Those hours comprised of two previous uneventful FCF flights during the day of the accident.

The MLB airport was located about 8 miles north of the accident site. The recorded weather at MLB, at 1353, included wind from 070 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 10 miles and few clouds at 5,000 feet.

A cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the wreckage and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, Washington, D.C, for data download.

Aircraft mentioned in this article :
Sikorsky S-61N N805AR     ( AAR Corp )

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