CHI00LA230
CHI00LA230

On July 28, 2000, at 1140 central daylight time, a Bell helicopter, BH-222-U, N224LL, operated by Air Methods Corp., was substantially damaged during takeoff. The helicopter had lifted off from a hospital helicopter pad and the tailrotor struck a helicopter pad light. The pilot landed back on the helicopter pad and shut down the helicopter. The 14 CFR Part 91 repositioning flight was departing from the Riverside Hospital helicopter pad (9MN4), Minneapolis, Minnesota, with Hollman Field (STP), St. Paul, Minnesota, as the destination. The airline transport rated pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the flight was on a company VFR flight plan.

The pilot reported he had landed at the helipad, shut down the helicopter, and dropped off the medical team and patient. The pilot started the helicopter and prepared to depart for refueling at STP. The pilot reported he listened to the ATIS weather for Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) that reported winds from the north at 5 knots.

The pilot reported, "A routine vertical lift-off was performed to about three to four feet. Pilot verified gauges and continued to increase collective. He then heard a load [loud] bang from the aft position of the aircraft. It sounded like a compressor stall. He immediately lowered the collective and as he touched down, realized that the aircraft was yawing to the right. He rolled the throttles to idle, then did a routine shutdown and exited the aircraft. Upon exit, pilot noted the tail rotor and associated gearbox had been damage [d] and also there was damage to a light on the helipad."

The Riverside Hospital helicopter pad security video camera recorded the accident. The video indicated the helicopter had flown into the wind during the approach to hovering over the helicopter pad. It showed the helicopter do a hover turn to the right in order to place the left side of the helicopter nearest to the patient ramp. The helicopter then landed on the pad. The shadow of the windsock seen on the video recording indicated the wind was from the direction aft of the helicopter when the helicopter landed on the pad. The video showed the pilot returning to the helicopter after the patient had been off loaded. It showed the helicopter starting to lift off the helicopter pad when the tailrotor struck the helicopter pad light that was located below the tailrotor. The video showed the aft portion of the helicopter's skids were still on the deck of the helicopter pad, or very nearly still on the deck of the helicopter pad, when the tailrotor struck the lighting fixture. The video showed the helicopter yawed to right about 30 degrees and the weight of the helicopter settled back down on the helicopter's skid. The video showed the main rotor and tail rotor coming to a complete stop about 10 seconds after the light fixture was struck.

The top of the light fixture measured about 19 inches in height.

The surface weather observation recorded at MSP at 1109 cdt indicated the winds were 020 degrees at 10 knots. The surface weather observation recorded at MSP at 1153 cdt indicated the winds were 010 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 17 knots.

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