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EMS Helicopter Wire Strike


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I'm not sure if this video made it's rounds yet:

 

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=016_1302154502

 

I guess it just goes to show that what Tim Tucker says during the RHC course is true: "The majority of pilots who survive wire strikes know that the wires are there."

 

Thank God there weren't any injuries. He did the right thing by setting it back on the ground.

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Since the EMS operators in Canada generally run two pilot operations. So 200% knew the wires were there. The big question is why did they land THERE. Did the ground spotter direct them there? Or did the pilots select the spot? Why didn't the crew land in the small field right next to the road? Where they trying to help the ground people out? Why? There were enough ground people to carry the patient to the helicopter with the fire truck there.

 

Was it a case of flying the way they train?

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Since the EMS operators in Canada generally run two pilot operations. So 200% knew the wires were there. The big question is why did they land THERE. Did the ground spotter direct them there? Or did the pilots select the spot? Why didn't the crew land in the small field right next to the road? Where they trying to help the ground people out? Why? There were enough ground people to carry the patient to the helicopter with the fire truck there.

 

Was it a case of flying the way they train?

 

Rick1128, I wasn't there, so this is to give an EMS pilots view that could be illuminating:

"The big question is why did they land THERE."

Some potential reasons: A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

"Did the ground spotter direct them there? Or did the pilots select the spot?"

The PIC bears full and complete responsibility, and thus decides where to land. I suspect most of us (EMS pilots) consider the ground crew's recommend, and I'll often try to accommodate and comply- but it's ALWAYS the PICs call.

"Why didn't the crew land in the small field right next to the road?"

A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

 

Hazardous obstructions almost never penetrate the pavement of a roadway. On the other hand, I often find stuff hidden in the grass, bushes, etc., of a scene that could potentially be a hazard.

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Rick1128, I wasn't there, so this is to give an EMS pilots view that could be illuminating:

"The big question is why did they land THERE."

Some potential reasons: A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

"Did the ground spotter direct them there? Or did the pilots select the spot?"

The PIC bears full and complete responsibility, and thus decides where to land. I suspect most of us (EMS pilots) consider the ground crew's recommend, and I'll often try to accommodate and comply- but it's ALWAYS the PICs call.

"Why didn't the crew land in the small field right next to the road?"

A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

 

Hazardous obstructions almost never penetrate the pavement of a roadway. On the other hand, I often find stuff hidden in the grass, bushes, etc., of a scene that could potentially be a hazard.

 

Wally, having been involved with SMS and accident and incident inquiries, I have found that it is useful to ask the questions that pop up in your mind as you look at the report or video of the event. Yes, the PIC is the final authority. However, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to assist the medical people as much as you can. I have flown air ambulance in the past and looking at the accidents and incidents that have happened to EMS/Air Ambulance aircraft I have found that many of these events were caused by the flight crew trying too hard to help. Especially if it involved a child. When I did air ambulance, I told my med crews right up front that I did not what to know anything about the patient. Except for two things. Do I have an altitude restriction and do I need to code (min delay/priority). I took myself right out of the medical loop. It becomes easier to push the limits mentally the more you know about the patient.

 

I agree that there are risks landing in a field. Not having seen the filed in question makes it difficult to comment on it. However, the ground personnel could have walked it prior to the helicopters arrival. The delay of transferring the patient would have been minimal. Generally engine crews are a minimum of 4 fire fighters who are trained in assisting ambulance crews, plus 2 ambulance attendants and the helicopter med crew, so there were at 6 to 8 people to move the patient.

 

You have an S76 which is a good sized helicopter landing on a narrow road with wires next to the road. Based on my experience, I am asking questions that maybe we all need to ask ourselves if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

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Rick1128, I wasn't there, so this is to give an EMS pilots view that could be illuminating:

"The big question is why did they land THERE."

Some potential reasons: A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

"Did the ground spotter direct them there? Or did the pilots select the spot?"

The PIC bears full and complete responsibility, and thus decides where to land. I suspect most of us (EMS pilots) consider the ground crew's recommend, and I'll often try to accommodate and comply- but it's ALWAYS the PICs call.

"Why didn't the crew land in the small field right next to the road?"

A paved road is hard, flat, and clear. The ambulance is also on the roadway, access to/from the aircraft/ground unit is expeditious and safe.

 

Hazardous obstructions almost never penetrate the pavement of a roadway. On the other hand, I often find stuff hidden in the grass, bushes, etc., of a scene that could potentially be a hazard.

 

Wally, having been involved with SMS and accident and incident inquiries, I have found that it is useful to ask the questions that pop up in your mind as you look at the report or video of the event. Yes, the PIC is the final authority. However, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to assist the medical people as much as you can. I have flown air ambulance in the past and looking at the accidents and incidents that have happened to EMS/Air Ambulance aircraft I have found that many of these events were caused by the flight crew trying too hard to help. Especially if it involved a child. When I did air ambulance, I told my med crews right up front that I did not what to know anything about the patient. Except for two things. Do I have an altitude restriction and do I need to code (min delay/priority). I took myself right out of the medical loop. It becomes easier to push the limits mentally the more you know about the patient.

 

I agree that there are risks landing in a field. Not having seen the filed in question makes it difficult to comment on it. However, the ground personnel could have walked it prior to the helicopters arrival. The delay of transferring the patient would have been minimal. Generally engine crews are a minimum of 4 fire fighters who are trained in assisting ambulance crews, plus 2 ambulance attendants and the helicopter med crew, so there were at 6 to 8 people to move the patient. Another point, almost half of the wire strike accidents occurred to pilot that knew the wires were there. And the still hit them. A majority of these pilots most likely had no intention of getting as close as these two pilots did. Something to keep in mind.

 

You have an S76 which is a good sized helicopter landing on a narrow road with wires next to the road. Based on my experience, I am asking questions that maybe we all need to ask ourselves if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

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I'm not sure if this video made it's rounds yet:

 

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=016_1302154502

 

I guess it just goes to show that what Tim Tucker says during the RHC course is true: "The majority of pilots who survive wire strikes know that the wires are there."

 

Thank God there weren't any injuries. He did the right thing by setting it back on the ground.

 

The opposite is also true. A majority of pilots who did not survive wire strikes did not know the wires were there.

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The only reason I can fathom that the road was chosen over the field is the significant ditch with water separating the two. Rick1128 mentioned trying to hard to help the ground crew. Perhaps the victim had neck/spine injuries and the possibility of dropping victim out-weighed the risk of wire strike.

Kevin M

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That spot isn't that tight.....at the end when they zoom out it has a good approach/departure path over that field. It's not a straight up/down LZ. Our ops manual requires a 1/3 of rotor disc clearance.

 

Where they screwed up was the pedal turn. If they would have just slid left, everything would have been fine.

 

They couldn't have landed in that field, no way to get over there with a stretcher.

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Bingo, should have slid lift 15-20 feet then pedal turned. I once had a flight instructor tell me I shouldnt hover sideways in case the engine quits you dont want it to roll over. Maybe he was the pilot!

no j/k, I see what hes saying but I have a lot bigger concerns to worry about.

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If the ground personnel set up the LZ on the road, you can be pretty certain they haven't looked in the field for obstacles. They don't have time to survey everywhere, they just look where they expect the aircraft to land. An S76 is on wheels, and they tend to sink into mud pretty deeply, and you could end up with the belly in the mud if you're not careful, and the ground is probably soft out there. A paved road prevents that. If you can't land in a confined area with obstacles close, you aren't a helicopter pilot yet. I have no problem with the landing area, just the decision to do a pedal turn there. An S76 will come up easily enough, even loaded, and it has lots of tail rotor authority, so even if there is a strong crosswind, you don't have to turn into it before takeoff. It will handle 40+ knot crosswinds without any problems, unlike a 206 which is marginal at best with crosswinds. The landing area was fine until the unfortunate decision to make a pedal turn. We all make poor decisions sometimes, and if we're lucky we survive them, and learn from them. I know I've learned a lot over the years. :blink:

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Bingo, should have slid lift 15-20 feet then pedal turned. I once had a flight instructor tell me I shouldnt hover sideways in case the engine quits you dont want it to roll over. Maybe he was the pilot!

no j/k, I see what hes saying but I have a lot bigger concerns to worry about.

 

Yeah, every year in recurrent training I get corrected for hovering "too high". I hover 7-8 ft and they tell me I should be down at 2-3 ft in case the engine quits. WTF? I have about 1,000x more chances of hitting a fence post, catching a gust of wind, etc that will cause me to dynamic rollover.

 

I've practiced hover power losses from 20 ft at factory schools; if you can't do one successfully from 7-8ft on level ground, you shouldn't be flying. And if you do spread the skids, who cares?!?!? The engine quit.....what if it would have happened 10 seconds later while I was in a max perf t/o @ 20 kts & 200 agl over powerlines?? It's not my fault the thing quit--fix the skids. If I hit something while hovering 2-3 ft, it's my fault....reason enough to hover high.

 

It's all about risk management and picking the least dangerous profile. Sometimes the safest option is in the dead man's curve, unless you want to walk.

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I tend to protect against the most likely danger. I hover high if there are possibly things sticking up to hit. But at an airport, where there is just pavement, I hover lower, 2 feet or so. There, the most likely danger is engine failure, and it's my responsibility to take the best care of the boss's equipment I can. I've also learned over the decades that when I'm taking a checkride, it's best to show the checkpilot what he wants to see. There is checkride and there is real world, and the two aren't completely the same.

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