On September 28, 2004, at 1505 Pacific daylight time, a Bell 222U, N222UT, collided with a taxiway during a simulated power loss of the number 1 engine at the Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa, California. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (Cal Star) was operating the pilot check flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airline transport pilot, the airline transport pilot rated check airman, and the chief pilot for Cal Star, a passenger on this flight, were not injured. The helicopter was destined to the Napa County Airport, Napa, California, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the check flight. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The check pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was an initial IFR check flight for one of the company pilots. During a hover taxi, the check pilot slowly retarded the number 1 engine to a partial power setting. The examinee did not notice the loss of power until the low rotor horn sounded and the warning light illuminated. The examinee lowered the collective and applied aft cyclic. The helicopter skids contacted the ground, and it bounced into the air in a nose-low attitude. This was followed by a ground contact on the toes of the skids, and an additional bounce. During the second bounce, the examinee applied aft cyclic; the tail rotor contacted the ground and broke from the helicopter. The helicopter bounced and began turning to the right. The check pilot applied power to the number 1 engine and the forward portion of the skids contacted the ground while the helicopter turned to the right. The helicopter spun approximately 270 degrees approximately 10 feet above ground level (agl). After 1 to 1 1/2 turns, the check pilot assumed control of the helicopter. He leveled the helicopter and applied full left pedal. The spin continued until he closed both throttles and performed a hovering autorotation.
The examinee reported being scheduled for an initial IFR helicopter ride. After the oral portion, the flight portion commenced. As they were hover taxiing for departure, the check pilot initiated a slow power reduction on one engine. The examinee recognized the power loss when the helicopter's sound changed, the rpm decreased, and a slight yaw occurred. The examinee lowered the collective and intended to slide the helicopter onto the taxiway and come to a halt. As the helicopter touched down, the examinee failed to reduce the collective to the stop and the helicopter became airborne. The initial touchdown was on the aft portion of the skids. As the helicopter lifted, the nose of the helicopter pitched forward and the examinee applied aft cyclic, but felt it already moving aft. The helicopter pitched forward and began a spin to the right. After 1/2 turn, the check pilot assumed the controls. The check pilot declared a "MAYDAY" and the helicopter made about two additional turns. The examinee then felt the check pilot roll the throttles into the "OFF" position and land the helicopter. The helicopter landed level on its skids and spun clockwise to a stop. The tail rotor ended up on the right side of the helicopter on the right side of the taxiway.
Neither the check pilot, nor the examinee, reported any mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter prior to the accident.
According to the chief pilot, the check airman performed in accordance with current company policies and procedures. Current company procedures regarding the maneuver involved blocking the movement up of the collective during a simulated engine failure. The check airman's hand was blocking the up movement of the collective.