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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA16LA325
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Friday, June 17, 2016 in Brainerd, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/06/2017
Aircraft: MD HELICOPTER 369E, registration: N155NR
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot reported that, during an aerial observation flight near known thunderstorms, the right center windscreen shattered. The pilot sustained multiple facial lacerations, but he was able to land the helicopter near a highway without further incident. The pilot reported that he did not see anything strike the windscreen and found no evidence of a bird strike.
Examination of the helicopter revealed that debris from the windscreen substantially damaged two of the main rotor blades and the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. Examination of the windscreen and its frame revealed evidence of cracking that originated in the center of the windscreen and propagated outward, consistent with impact forces from outside the helicopter.
DNA from samples taken from portions of the windscreen matched DNA from a Western Kingbird; however, given the extent of the damage to the windscreen, the small size of the Western Kingbird, and the pilot’s statement, it is likely that this DNA was due to a previous bird strike and did not result in the failure of the windscreen. Therefore, the reason for the windscreen failure could not be determined.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The failure of the helicopter’s windscreen for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information, which resulted in substantial damage to the main rotor blades and horizontal stabilizer.