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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN15MA290
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, July 03, 2015 in Frisco, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/09/2017
Aircraft: AIRBUS HELICOPTERS INC AS350B3E, registration: N390LG
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The NTSB's full report is available at http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/AccidentReports.aspx. The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-17/01.

On July 3, 2015, about 1339 mountain daylight time, an Airbus Helicopters AS350 B3e helicopter, N390LG, registered to and operated by Air Methods Corporation, lifted off from the Summit Medical Center Heliport, Frisco, Colorado, and then crashed into a parking lot; the impact point was located 360 feet southwest of the ground-based helipad. The pilot was fatally injured, and the two flight nurses were seriously injured. The helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on a company flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • Airbus Helicopters' dual-hydraulic AS350 B3e helicopter's (1) preflight hydraulic check, which depleted hydraulic pressure in the tail rotor hydraulic circuit, and (2) lack of salient alerting to the pilot that hydraulic pressure was not restored before takeoff. Such alerting might have cued the pilot to his failure to reset the yaw servo hydraulic switch to its correct position during the preflight hydraulic check, which resulted in a lack of hydraulic boost to the pedal controls, high pedal forces, and a subsequent loss of control after takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to perform a hover check after liftoff, which would have alerted him to the pedal control anomaly at an altitude that could have allowed him to safely land the helicopter. Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the helicopter's fuel system, which was not crash resistant and facilitated a fuel-fed postcrash fire.