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US accident data heading for worst year in over a decade

With half of 2019 completed and another six months to go, the U.S. helicopter industry is experiencing a year of tragic accidents with too many lives being lost. To stem the surge of fatal accidents, the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org) is calling on helicopter operators, pilots, instructors and mechanics to rely on safety basics and place a stronger emphasis on identifying and managing risk.

For the first six months of 2019, the U.S. helicopter industry has experienced 15 fatal accidents with 27 fatalities. This is on track to match 2013, when 30 fatal accidents occurred. However, since July is usually a month with a high number of accidents, the industry also is at risk to reach the total from 2008, when there were 35 fatal helicopter accidents.

To avoid this unwelcome record during 2019, the USHST is calling for pilots, instructors and others with a stake in helicopter safety to focus on seven key actions that will save lives.

Know How Much Fuel You Need or “May” Need – Always carry enough fuel for unexpected situations. Ignoring minimum fuel reserve requirements is generally the result of overconfidence, a lack of flight planning, or deliberately ignoring regulations.

Take Time for a Walk Around and for Checklists – An adequate preflight inspection, a checklist and a final walk around are central responsibilities that determine the condition of an aircraft prior to flight. In addition, post-flight inspections can identify issues prior to the next flight.

Recognize the Potency of OTC Medications – Because over-the-counter medications are readily available, pilots frequently underestimate their effects and the impairment caused by these sedating drugs. In spite of specific federal regulations and education efforts regarding flying while impaired, over-the-counter medication usage by pilots remains a factor in 10 to 13 percent of aircraft accidents.

Stop the Scud Running – Lowering your altitude to avoid clouds or bad weather is dangerous and leads to fatal results from flying into terrain or obstacles such as wires and towers. Know your minimum altitude and stick to it.

Visual Flight Rules in Instrument Conditions Can Lead to Death – Yes, death. This is the all-too-often result of the previously mentioned practice of flying too low. It is even more dangerous if the pilot is not instrument qualified or is unwilling to believe what the gauges are indicating. This action usually results in not knowing where you are and an inability to recognize deteriorating circumstances and/or the misjudgment of the rate of deterioration.

Don’t Succumb to Get-There-Itis – This “disease” is common among pilots. It clouds the vision and impairs judgment by causing a fixation on the original goal or destination combined with a total disregard for any alternative courses of action.

Don’t be Afraid to Divert, Turn Around or Land – Yes, you can divert from your original plan; you can turn around, or you can land. Always make sure you have an alternative course of action available should the weather conditions preclude the completion of the flight as planned. In other words, don’t be afraid to land and live.

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18-Mar-19 ZT-ROB Bell 206L3 Beira, Mozambique

Damaged by debris during hangar collapse caused by Cyclone Idai

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18-Mar-19 C9-HEI Sikorsky S76A Beira, Mozambique

Damaged by debris during hangar collapse caused by Cyclone Idai.  Helicopter is thought to be already in storage and withdraw

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27-Feb-19 9M-AMI Airbus H125 Pathibhara, Nepal (7F)

Initial reports suggest the helicopter entered cloud and struck a cliff, locally known as Sisne Bhir. Helicopter consumed in post crash fire.  Crash site is located at around 10,000 feet.

This report states that the fatalities were

  • Rabindra Adhikari, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation
  • Ang Tshiring Sherpa, managing director of Yeti Airlines and the chairman of Air Dynasty
  • Birendra Prasad Shrestha, deputy director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)
  • Dhurba Bhochhibhoya, deputy director of CAAN
  • Yubaraj Dahal, a personal aide to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli
  • Arjun Kumar Ghimire, a Nepal Army official
  • Captain Prabhakar KC, pilot, Air Dynasty

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26-Feb-19 G-HWKS Robinson R44 Sketrick Island, UK

Helicopter struck and broke power cable, but landed OK in a very tight location

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24-Feb-19 9H-VIP Airbus EC135 Valetta, Malta

Helicopter damaged at Malta International Airport after the temporary hangar covering the aircraft collapsed in high winds.  Structure seen in image to be tangled up and resting on top of the rotors

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22-Feb-19 F-HSOX Airbus EC145 Bidarray, France

Air Ambulance on approach to land – a sheet from a farm building broke loose and embedded in the blades of the helicopter, causing it to turn through 180 degrees, landing heavily from low level. The crew consisting of a doctor, a nurse, a pilot and a flight assistant were unharmed but shocked

[Wrongly quoted elsewhere as AW109E F-GPBH, which was cancelled from the French register in August 2016]

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21-Feb-19 N506PH MD Helicopters MD500E Waipio, US-Hawaii

The Fire Department said the crash was a result of engine failure.  FAA report 2 POB with no injuries, while the operator said the unnamed pilot was hospitalized “for further evaluation as a precautionary measure.”  Operator said  in a statement “hard landing … while arriving for a utility flight”

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20-Feb-19 N350VH Robinson R22 Las Vegas, US-Nevada

Precautionary landing in water retention basin.  No injuries to 2 POB.  No damage to aircraft

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19-Feb-19 N512GS Robinson R22 Clearwater, US-Florida

Training accident, rollover onto starboard side.  Heavily damaged – see images

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18-Feb-19 N350ST Airbus AS350SD2 Glacier View, US-Alaska

Accident pilot was dropping off 2 heli-ski clients at a 6,000 foot msl mountain ridge line site, requiring him to preform a “toe in” landing. While hovering, but with the toes of the skids resting on the up-sloping field, and the two skiers disembarked, the main rotor blades contacted an area of ​​rocky terrain. The pilot then flew downhill for an emergency landing. The helicopter rolled to the right after touchdown on snow-covered terrain.

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18-Feb-10 Sikorsky H-92 Kauai, US-Hawaii

The helicopter, being flown by an experienced pilot, was approaching MV Asterix’s landing pad in daylight and relatively calm conditions. As it hovered over the deck the helicopter appeared to suddenly drop about two metres, hitting the deck, military sources noted. No serious injuries were reported. Tail rotor  damage

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17-Feb-19 LN-ORH Robinson R44 Røldal, Norway (2F)

Impacted terrain in mountainous region.  2 fatal

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17-Feb-19 ZK-HEX Airbus AS350 Nelson, New Zealand

The press release from investigators TAIC said “Something caused the pilot to conduct an emergency landing. [After jettisoning the water bucket,] The helicopter landed heavily and the sole pilot received moderate injuries. The nature of damage to the helicopter is yet to be established.”

Pilot named in this report as Bill Reid of Reid Helicopters

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13-Feb-19 D-HJMD Airbus EC135P2 Neustadt an der Orla, Germany

EMS helicopter landed in a skate park and became entangled with a skateboarding “grind pole”. Helicopter slightly damaged, but roaded out for inspection before flying again.

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11-Feb-19 Bell UH-1 Çekmeköy, Turkey (4F)

Helicopter crashed into a residential area, and is the second fatal UH-1 accident in the Istanbul metropolis in three months – the other one was on 26th November 2018 at Sancaktepe.

The Turkish defence ministry named the four fatalities in their tweet as  Pilot Captain Umit Ozer, Captain Semih Ozcan, Petty Officer Sergeant Ilyas Kaya and NCO Officer Yakup Avsar

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11-Feb-19 PT-HPG Bell 206B Jabaquara, Brazil (2F)

Helicopter crashed on Anhanguera Highway in Sao Paulo and hit the front of a truck that was passing by, and was consumed by fire.  Two fatalities, including journalist, presenter and broadcaster Ricardo Boechat.  Ronaldo Quattrucci also died in the accident.  Brazilian defence department confirmed the registration of the Bell 206

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09-Feb-19 ET2015 Mil Mi-17V-5 Abyei, South Sudan (3F)

Ethiopian Air Force Mi-17V-5 being operated for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) crashed inside the UNISFA compound.  The aircraft was on routine operation carrying Ethiopian troops on rotation from Kadugli to Abyei, and it could be assumed it was intending to land in that compound when it experienced some sort of difficulty and came down in the wrong place.  The helicopter hit the ground very heavily and came to rest upright, breaking the tail boom in two and all main rotor blades losing most of their length.  An alarming video shows rescuers going in and pulling at least one person out while the main rotor head continues to turn under power.

Of the total 23 on board, three died in the accident and ten passengers were injured with three in critical condition.

NOTE – Registration being wrongly quoted (including by the UN here) as UNO370P, which is the UN operational code and not the registration.  The military registration/serial carried on this helicopter was ET2015, per this image.

 

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08-Feb-19 225 MD Helicopters MD530F Saydabad, Afghanistan

Helicopter written off in snowy conditions.  Very few details available.  In this tweet there is a claim it was shot down by Taliban

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05-Feb-19 IA-2147 HAL Dhruv Thattaguppe, India

Emergency landing in a potato fieldm  No injuries.  Minimal damage, from images

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04-Feb-19 Mil Mi-24 El Pao, Venezuela

The helicopter crashed during a military training exercise. Five occupants were injured – named here as Reynaldo Niño Lozano, Javier Enrique Ocanto Chinchilla, Juan Carlos Bohórquez Pérez, Yondry José Romero, and Michael Ibrahim

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04-Feb-19 VH-NXW Bell 206 Marcoola, Australia

Bell 206 remained upright on its skids in a heavy landing during a training flight. The 22-year-old student pilot sustained injuries and was transported to hospital. One report suggested it will require a new set of skids

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03-Feb-19 ZU-RZM Airbus SA342M Rand, South Africa

Helicopter ended on its starboard side.  Indications of main blades contacting tail boom.  All four on board exited without serious injury

Aircraft was originally built by the Soko factory in the former Yugoslavia

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02-Feb-19 5N-CML Leonardo AW139 Kabba, Nigeria

Helicopter was carrying Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and his aides, none of whom were seriously injured.  There was a total of 12 POB including crew.  Brown out on approach was contributory to the end result – helicopter on its starboard side.

 

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31-Jan-19 N407P Bell 407 Church Hill, US-Tennessee

Smoke detected after using of deicing equipment.  Precautionary landing made in open field without further incident.

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31-Jan-19 JA7980 Robinson R22 Kashiwa, Japan

Training accident in gusty conditions

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31-Jan-19 F-HRCR Guimbal G2 Pierrevert, France

During reconnaissance to land on a golf course, the helicopter suddenly rotates left on its yaw axis, falls from a height of 5 to 10 m by making several turns on itself, and collides with the ground on one of the courses of the golf course.  Two POB, one reported seriously injured, the other lightly injured

 

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30-Jan-19 N484AB Robinson R44 Uvalde, US-Texas

Force landed.  Main rotor severed tail boom

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29-Jan-19 N191SF Bell 407 Zaleski, US-Ohio (3F)

The helicopter departed Mount Carmel Grove City hospital and was flying to Holzer Meigs hospital in Pomeroy to pick up a patient.  Contact was lost and the wreckage was found in a wood about three and a half hours later.

Troopers located the wreckage of a Bell 407 helicopter east of State Route 278 and south of King Hollow Trail in Vinton County.

The crew were named here as pilot Jennifer L. Topper and flight nurses Bradley J. Haynes and Rachel L. Cunningham.

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29-Jan-19 N680DG Airbus AS350B2 Tampa, US-Florida

Pilot was practicing autorotations, landed hard and bent boom.

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28-Jan-19 N173AC Sikorsky S64 Jericho, Australia

During aerial fire control operations, at about 1956, the helicopter collided with water and came to rest inverted resulting in minor injuries to the three crew and damage to the helicopter.   Three on board swam to safety.

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25-Jan-19 I-EDIC Airbus AS350B2 La Thuile, Italy (7F)

Mid-air crash between AS350B2 I-EDIC and a Jodel D140 fixed wing F-PMGV, resulting in seven fatalities between the total of nine on board the two aircraft.  Helicopter pilot was named here as Maurizio Scarpelli, accompanied by mountain guide Frank Henssler and three others, one of whom survived.

In the fixed wing were four people, the French instructor named here as Philippe Michel, who was sitting in the back of the aircraft – with two student pilots in the front – a 51-year-old Belgian and a 59-year-old Frenchman.

The accident scene is shown in this official rescue service photo – altitude reported as 2600m

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24-Jan-19 F-OFML Airbus H125 Grand-Brûlé, Reunion

Bambi bucket cable became entangled in tail rotor during firefighting operations.  Pilot managed to put helicopter down safely on its skids, but with damage tail boom and blades

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19-Jan-19 VH-YHS Airbus H130 Mansfield, Australia

The pilot reported that during the initial climb at about 3 m, the helicopter began to yaw and roll to the left at an increasing rate. The pilot then initiated a landing during which the helicopter rolled over. The helicopter was substantially damaged but no one was injured.

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14-Jan-19 PP-ECF Airbus AS350BA Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1F)

While in a low hover during a rescue mission, the helicopter crashed into the water.  One police officer was trapped inside the wreckage and was later pronounced dead.  He was named in this report as Felipe Marques de Queiroz.  The others on board were named here as Major Alves, Major Albuquerque and Sargentos Morais

Helicopter callsign was Fenix 08

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11-Jan-19 N346AE Airbus AS350B2 Ponca City, US-Oklahoma

Circumstances unclear.  Helicopter ended up on its starboard side on the edge of the apron by the hangars.  Pilot and copilot, the only two on board, were not injured.

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10-Jan-19 N828KB Bell 230 Brooksville, US-Florida (1F)

Helicopter blades struck ramp worker during startup.  The man who was killed was identified in this report as Salvatore Disi, 62

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10-Jan-19 VH-HUE Bell 205 Talbingo, Australia

During sling load operations, the load released and struck the loadmaster resulting in serious injuries.

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01-Jan-19 PR-RMZ Robinson R44 Ubatuba, Brazil (1F)

Helicopter on a scenic flight crash landed in a residential street, killing a pedestrian.  The three on board the helicopter were not seriously injured

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29-Dec-18 Leonardo AW139 Jebel Jais, UAE (4F)

SAR helicopter hit zipwire, causing loss of control and immediate fall to the ground.  Post crash fire.  All four on board suffered fatal injuries.

This report names the deceased as

  • Pilots Saqr Saeed Mohamed Abdullah Al Yamahi and Hameed Mohamed Obaid Al Zaabi,
  • Navigator Jasim Abdullah Ali Tunaiji
  • Paramedic Mark Roxburgh

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28-Dec-18 N8319T Robinson R22 Hayward, US-California

Remained upright in very heavy emergency landing on golf course after tail rotor birdstrike reported.  Tail hit ground, skids collapsed.  Training flight from nearby Hayward Executive airport – instructor and student not seriously injured

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16-Dec-18 N803PT Robinson R44 Pontiac, US-Michigan

Bird strike

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15-Dec-18 Leonardo AW109S Serra de Pias, Portugal (4F)

The helicopter was returning to its base in Macedo de Cavaleiros, Bragança district, after carrying out a medical emergency mission to transport a seriously ill patient to the Santo António Hospital in Porto.  The accident was located some 4-5 hours after the helicopter was reported missing.  All four on board died in the accident, named in this report as pilot João Lima, co-pilot Luís Rosindo, doctor Luis Vega and nurse Daniela Silva

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03-Dec-18 HB-ZCM Airbus AS350 Arbedo-Castione, Switzerland

After a collision with a high-voltage power line, the pilot made an emergency landing in a nearby meadow  beside the road that connects Castione to Claro

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01-Dec-18 HL9419 Kamov Ka32 Guri, Korea (1F)

Crashed into river when hovering and taking up water for firefighting operation for a fire on Mount Youngchuk.  The rescue services said the helicopter crashed into the Han River near Gangdong Bridge around 11:20 a.m. The pilot and copilot were able to exit the aircraft immediately prior to impact, but the mechanic was trapped in the wreckage and later died

Once source is quoting the registration as HL9419 on the basis that they think the three digit code on the engine cover of the recovered helicopter in this image is “613” but we cannot be sure of that and thus cautious of this registration

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26-Nov-18 Bell UH-1 Sancaktepe, Turkey (4F)

A Turkish military UH-1 has crashed in the Sancaktepe district of Istanbul, with four fatalities and a fifth person with serious injuries

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24-Nov-18 VH-KZV Robinson R22 Alice Springs, Australia (1F)

The helicopter collided with terrain about 130km ENE of Alice Springs Airport. A passenger and pilot were on board. The passenger sustained serious injuries and the pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was destroyed.

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22-Nov-18 N124ML Airbus H120 La Romana, Dominican Republic (5F)

The aircraft took off from Río San Juan to La Romana Int’l airport MDLR with 5 peoples on board, after been transfer to the La Romana tower he reported 6 miles NW out and the tower report with the traffic inside, Clear to land. Around 30 seconds after the controller lost the visual contact with the helicopter and called couples of times with no answer.

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05-Nov-18 F-WSPM Rotorway Exec 162F Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, France

The helicopter takes off in the wind. It reaches the altitude of about 20m and makes a 180 ° to head south. Shortly after this U-turn, the aircraft tilts to the left about 45 °, falls rapidly and hits the ground violently.

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02-Nov-18 G-FLYX Robinson R44 Denham, UK

As the helicopter lifted, it began to rotate to the right which the instructor attempted to counter with the application of left pedal and by lowering the collective. The helicopter then rolled to the left and the front of the left skid contacted the ground before breaking off. The helicopter continued to roll further to the left, with the rotor blades striking the ground, before coming to rest on its left side with the engine still running.

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27-Oct-18 G-VSKP Leonardo AW169 Leicester, UK (5F)

Helicopter took off from Leicester City FC stadium and crashed shortly after in the adjacent car park.  Five fatalities named by police as Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

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30-Sep-18 N440SH Robinson R44 Westminster, US-Maryland

Helicopter was trying to take off from the top level of a parking garage when the operator lost control, striking a parked car

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29-Sep-18 N849NA Airbus AS350B2 Alto, US-New Mexico

Heavy landing with some forward momentum, then pitched up on the front of its skids, slid forward, then down a slope, moving round as it did, but still ending on its skids (see video)

Aircraft operated by Trans Aero, part of Roberts Aircraft – and operated under “Trans Aero Medevac” titles from a base at Artesia, NM.  3 POB reported by FAA as not being injured

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17-Aug-18 VH-JWB Airbus BK117 Ulladulla, Australia

the bucket and longline become tangled in trees at the edge of a clearing, followed by the helicopter colliding with terrain. The pilot was fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed.

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21-Mar-18 VH-WII Airbus EC120 Hardy Reef, Australia (2F)

While approaching the pontoon, the pilot reported noticing a warning message illuminate but was unable to verify the nature of the warning due to workload. Pilot elected to conduct a go-around. On the second approach at an altitude of about 40 ft above the pontoon, the pilot recalled feeling a ‘thud’ and the nose of the helicopter yawed sharply left. The pilot was unable to regain control of the helicopter and it collided with the water.  The pilot and two passengers exited the helicopter soon after the collision and swam free from the upturned helicopter. The remaining rear passenger was evacuated by one of the surviving passengers and the front passenger (in the copilot seat) was evacuated from the helicopter by the pilot. The two passengers that were unable to exit the helicopter unassisted were fatally injured. The two other passengers sustained minor injuries, and the pilot was uninjured.

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09-Jan-18 N’gokro, Ivory Coast

French military helicopter crashed at N’gokro in the Alépé region, about 60km from Abidjan.  3 POB not seriously injured

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01-Jan-18 ZS-??? Airbus AS350B3 Cathedral Peak, South Africa

Police helicopter ended up on its side during a search operation. The pilot and crew‚ who included a search and rescue unit operator and his search dog‚ survived the crash. Photos suggest the subject helicopter is ZS-RDL (msn 4170) or ZS-RPL (msn 3468)

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11-Nov-17 N744BS Robinson R44 Page, US-Arizona

Crashed at the end of the runway

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09-Nov-17 N500DC MD Helicopters 500D York, US-Pennsylvania

Precautionary field landing, per FAA report

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08-Nov-17 N138WH Hughes 500D Sulphur, US-Louisiana (2F)

Two men working on power lines from the helicopter,  and  heir safety harness failed because it had been rubbing against the power lines causing it to “snap” the release from Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office reportedly said.  Both men fell about 100 feet to their deaths from the helicopter – they were later named as Nicholas Gamalski, 27, and Travis Chiokai, 26.

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08-Nov-17 JA9672 Airbus AS332L Ueno, Japan (4F)

Helicopter crashed and burnt out on a road bridge.  Scene photo shows part of tail on river bank below bridge.  All four POB received fatal injuries.  Local power cuts indicate a wire strike but unclear if that was cause of accident or result of the flight altitude at the time

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07-Nov-17 N93PH Bell 206B Rolling Fork, US-Mississippi

Force landing during aerial application work.

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08-Nov-17 N275AE Bell 206L3 Union City, US-Tennessee

Air Evac Lifeteam aircraft had in-air problem on approach to the local 911 centre and put down in a hurry.  Power lines cut – not known if that was cause or effect of the heavy landing. Helicopter ended up on its skids, tail boom creased, main blades missing, upper part of tail bent and significant damage in area of rotor head, starboard windshield broken – see photo

3 POB to hospital but no serious injuries reported

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06-Nov-17 N7085M Robinson R44 Inwood, US-Iowa

The sheriff was reported as saying Pilot Robert Krier with Ride the Sky Helicopters and passenger Steve Ahrendt, the owner of the cattle, were in the helicopter when it clipped a power line looking for loose cattle. Both occupants reported as suffering serious injuries.

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05-Nov-17 N522RL Bell 407 Rig MP281, US-Gulf of Mexico

Bird strike en route to offshore rig

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21-Aug-17 RA-05750 Robinson R66 Maly Utrish, Russia (1F)

Sole occupant pilot suffered fatal injuries when helicopter crashed into a mountain, per press reports

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20-Aug-17 OE-XTM Airbus AS350B3 Cabril, Portugal (1F)

Firefighting operations and helicopter hit powerlines, causing it to crash to the ground.  Sole occupant pilot, named as Americo Sousa age 51, suffered fatal injuries

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20-Aug-17 N9526 Bell 47G2A St Marys, US-Pennsylvania

Heavy field landing after reported engine failure.  Little/no damage to tail boom suggests mainly vertical impact, although main blades broken at the rotorhead.  Aircraft is registered to James Delullo at an address in the same town as the accident location.

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18-Aug-17 VH-LGN Robinson R44 Channel Point, Australia

Passing 500 ft in a descending turn at approximately 50 kt, the pilot reported the helicopter began to vibrate. The pilot was unable to stop the vibration and conducted a precautionary landing. The helicopter landed hard and severed the tail boom. The helicopter sustained substantial damage and the pilot and three passengers were not injured.

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17-Aug-17 OE-XGM Schweizer 300C Engelhartszell, Austria

Pilot made emergency landing after experiencing problems during photo flight, and subsequent landing in open field left the aircraft on its starboard side.  Passenger received light head injuries

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10-Aug-17 7T-WU? Bell 206L Douira, Algeria (4F)

Helicopter crashed on a photo survey flight – it was chartered by the National Agency for Studies and Follow-up on Railways Investment, who were conducting cartography of the new railway line linking Algiers downtown to the western suburb of Zeralda.  Images show the helicopter completely burnt out.

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07-Aug-17 Sikorsky UH-60 Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Blown over on its starboard side in strong winds while parked on the ramp – photo

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10-Jun-17 N7482F Hughes 300C Tallulah, US-Louisiana

Substantially damaged by ground resonance

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10-Jun-17 B-31118 Bell 206B Fengbin, Taiwan (3F)

Helicopter took off at 1046 from Taidong for an aerial photography mission at Fengbin Township, Hualien County. At around 1220, the helicopter was loss of contact and crashed at Fengbin Township, Hualien County. One pilot and two aerial photographers aboard were killed – one was named as Chi Po-Lin, an acclaimed film director.  Helicopter almost completely burnt out

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10-Jun-17 VH-ONE Bell 206B Avalon, Australia

Successful emergency landing in public park after engine problems.  Helicopter not damaged, all passengers safe.  Helicopter was on a tour flight from Mascot to Palm Beach

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