On October 7, 2001, approximately 2250 central daylight time, an Aerospatiale AS355F1 twin-engine helicopter, N911BB, was substantially damaged during a hard landing following a total loss of engine power near Rosebud, Texas. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Southwest Helicopters, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona. The commercial pilot and one medical crewmember sustained minor injuries and the other medical crewmember was not injured. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight. The flight originated from Valley Mills, Texas, approximately 2130, and was destined for the Scott and White Memorial Hospital, Temple, Texas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported in his completed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2, that about 10 to 15 minutes after departing Valley Mills, he received from Meds-com (dispatch and flight following) a mission about 65 miles to the east. Upon arrival at the destination, the mission was cancelled. The pilot further reported that the flight circled the area for about 10 minutes trying to locate the State Trooper; however, they could not find him. The flight then departed the area for the Scott and White Memorial Hospital. "About 10 to 15 min[utes] out from Scott and White with 13 to 14 percent of fuel left, the engines failed." He entered an autorotation and transmitted a mayday call. He maneuvered the helicopter to avoid a farmer's house and went in between two trees, decelerated over bales of hay, and pulled initial collective. The helicopter "hit hard and level" and slid approximately 30-40 feet before coming to rest on its left side. The pilot also reported that he "got into height perception illusion" and "pulled initial to high."
The operator reported in their completed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2, that the helicopter, call sign Medivac 1, departed Valley Mills at 2130 for the return flight to the Scott and White Hospital. The pilot's company flight plan indicated 1 hour and 30 minutes of fuel on board with an en route time of 22 minutes. Approximately 2 minutes after departure, Medivac 1 was diverted to an accident scene in Leon County (31 degrees 10 minutes North and 96 degrees 7 minutes West). The pilot programmed in the lat/long, and advised Meds-com of an en route time of 39 minutes. At 2146, the pilot made a position report (31 degrees 19 minutes North and 96 degrees 50 minutes West). "Shortly after the position report," Meds-com contacted Medivac 1 with updated coordinates (31 degrees 9 minutes North and 96 degrees 7 minutes West) for the accident scene. After entering the new coordinates, the pilot adjusted his ETA to 25 minutes. The pilot called landing at the scene at 2225 (after 55 minutes of flight). Meds-com advised the pilot that the ground unit had departed the scene with the patient and requested that Medivac 1 meet them at a new location to pick up the patient. At 2240, after the mission was cancelled, Medivac 1 called in a position report (31 degrees 14 minutes North and 96 degrees 19 minutes West) and filed a flight plan to return to Scott and White Hospital with an ETA of 30 minutes and 40 minutes of fuel on board. At 2255, the pilot made a call to Meds-com stating he was making an emergency landing. The next contact Meds-com had with Medivac 1 was a telephone call from the flight nurse. The pilot reported to the operator that the engines flamed out and he entered autorotation to a field. He spotted what he believed to be a tree or bush and "flared a little high to miss the obstacle which caused a decrease in rotor rpm." The operator further reported that the pilot tested positive for amphetamines after the accident. The "pilot also admitted to taking medicine prescribed for his wife, and was taking this medicine for 3 days prior to the accident."
Toxicology testing of the pilot was completed at the Scott & White Hospital on October 8, 2001, at 0131. Toxicology tests were positive for methamphetamine (>20000 ng/ml) and amphetamine (2642 ng/ml).
Examination of the helicopter, by the Roll-Royce representative and FAA inspector who responded to the accident site, revealed that the tail boom was separated from the fuselage, both skid tubes were separated from the cross tubes, and all main rotor blades were damaged. Further examination of the helicopter revealed that the fuel system was not compromised. During the examination of the fuel system, a total of 2 ounces of fuel was drained from both fuel filters and the fuel lines, which lead to the fuel nozzles. A total of 2 quarts of fuel was drained from both fuel tanks.