CHI02FA189
CHI02FA189

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 10, 2002, about 1615 eastern daylight time, a Sikorsky S-58ET , N580US, operated by Midwest Helicopter Airways Inc., was substantially damaged when it struck power transmission lines and subsequently impacted Brookville Lake, Brookville, Indiana. The helicopter was maneuvering at low altitude when the accident occurred. The 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The pilot and one passenger received serious injuries. A second passenger was fatally injured. The flight originated from Shelbyville, Indiana, and was destined for Lebanon, Ohio.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) interviewed the pilot on July 10, 2002. According to the FAA record of interview, the pilot stated that they were en route to Lebanon, Ohio, and their course would take them over Brookville Lake. The pilot stated that he reviewed his sectional chart for wires. As they approached the reservoir they descended to a couple of hundred feet above the ground level (agl). The pilot reported that he looked up and saw wires. The pilot reported that he pulled up and felt the helicopter strike the wires. The pilot stated that the helicopter began to rotate. He subsequently closed the throttle to stop rotation. The piloted stated that the helicopter struck the water and submerged immediately. The pilot stated that he and the passenger in the left seat were able to exit the helicopter and swim to the surface. The pilot stated that upon reaching the surface they were picked up by boaters in the area. The pilot reported that the third passenger failed to exit the helicopter. The pilot stated that he was aware of power lines to the east of the lake but not to the west. When asked the pilot stated that the helicopter was running alright and everything appeared to be operating okay. The pilot reported that there was plenty of fuel aboard.

According to a voluntary statement taken by an Indiana State Trooper, the left seat passenger stated that the flight originated in Shelbyville, Indiana, and was en route to Lebanon, Ohio, for what was described as a "lift job." The passenger stated that suddenly the power lines appeared. He stated that the pilot attempted to avoid the lines by initiating a steep climb. The passenger reported that he thought the tail wheel caught one of the lines causing severe damage. The passenger stated that before impact, he removed his seat belt, hit his head on a window, and lost consciousness. He stated that he awoke in the water and swam to the surface.

According to several witness statements, the helicopter was flying low over the water when it appeared to climb in an attempt to avoid the power lines. Witnesses reported that the helicopter struck the power lines and the tail of the helicopter separated from the main section. They reported that the helicopter then entered the water.

INJURIES TO PERSONS

The pilot reported serious injuries to his right arm and back. The passenger, seated in the left front seat, reported serious injuries to his back. The passenger located in the cabin section received fatal injuries from head trauma.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 36, held a commercial pilot certificate with helicopter and instrument helicopter ratings. He held a SK 58 type rating restricted to visual flight rules flight. The pilot was issued a second class medical certificate issued on November 15, 2001, with the following limitations, wear corrective lenses. According to a report submitted by the operator of the aircraft, the pilot had a total time of 4,000 hours, of which 150 hours were in the make and model of the accident aircraft, 17.3 hours were in the last 30 days, and 3.6 hours were in the last 24 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1963 Sikorsky S-58ET, serial number 58-1673 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-6 engines. The aircraft had a total airframe time of 10,856.2 hours. The time since last inspection was reported as 8.5 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Butler County Regional Airport, located, about 23 nautical miles east of the accident site, reported: visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 4,900 feet agl; temperature 29 degrees Celsius; dew point 17 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.03 inches mercury; wind 030 degrees at 11 knots with gusts to 15 knots.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

According to an Indiana State Police Report, the accident site was 100 feet north of the south shoreline and east of the overhead power transmission lines in a cove. According to the report, a conservation officer stated that the helicopter was in approximately 30 - 40 feet of water. On July 12, 2002, about 2000, the helicopter was lifted from the water and transported to Rushville, Indiana. The power transmission lines that were struck measured 124 feet above the water.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The sectional chart states:

This chart is primarily designed for visual flight rules navigational purposes and does not purport to indicate the presence of all power transmission and telecommunication lines, terrain or obstacles which may
be encountered below reasonable and safe altitudes.



Federal Aviation Regulation 91.119, Minimum safe altitude states: Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the minimum following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel vehicle, or structure.

(d) Helicopters. Helicopters may operate at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface. In addition, each person operating a helicopter shall comply with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the Administrator.

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