Bradenton Beach, FL, USA
The pilot stated that during an instructional flight, he was flying the helicopter about 100 ft above water while the flight instructor took photographs. The pilot executed a 180° turn into a tailwind. The flight instructor stated that the pilot then pulled back on the cyclic and the airspeed reduced to 0 knots. The pilot indicated that immediately after the turn, the helicopter lost power and/or lift and that “the wind might have shifted.” The helicopter quickly settled with power and impacted the water, which resulted in substantial damage to the main rotor, fuselage, and tailboom. The flight instructor stated that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter. He further reported that the accident happened so fast that he did not have time to take the controls and recover. The pilot’s low altitude turn into the tailwind and reduction in airspeed led to the helicopter settling with power. The flight instructor's diverted attention likely precluded adequate monitoring and delayed his recognition of the conditions that led to the helicopter settling with power and thus provide appropriate remedial action.
On April 13, 2019, about 1220 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R22, N689M, was substantially damaged during impact with water while maneuvering near Bradenton Beach, Florida. The flight instructor and private pilot were not injured. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Buchan Airport (X36), Englewood, Florida, about 1100. The flight was destined to Clearwater Airport (CLW), Clearwater, Florida. The private pilot stated that he was receiving instruction to prepare for a commercial pilot practical examination. As part of the lesson, the private pilot was flying about 100 ft above the water while the flight instructor took pictures of boats. The private pilot then executed a 180°-turn to obtain a better angle for a photograph. Immediately after the turn, the helicopter lost power and or lift and the pilot assumed "I got into settling with power, because the wind might have shifted." The private pilot tried to level the helicopter before impact with the water, but there was not enough time. The helicopter came to rest inverted in the water and both pilots egressed. The flight instructor stated that the pilot made a turn into a downwind, which put the helicopter in a tailwind. The pilot then pulled back into 0 airspeed and as a result the helicopter settled into its own downwash. The accident happened so quickly that the flight instructor had no time to take the controls and correct. He added that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter. Examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed damage to the main rotor, fuselage and tailboom. The recorded wind at an airport located about 8 miles southeast of the accident site, at 1253, was from 190° at 15 knots.
The pilot's improper decision to execute a low altitude turn that resulted in a strong tailwind and to reduce the airspeed to 0 knots and the flight instructor's diverted attention and inadequate monitoring, which resulted in the helicopter settling with power.
Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database
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