Fatal Biplane/Helicopter Mid Air Collision in Spain, 30 December 2017

On 30 December 2017 a collision occurred at Mutxamel (Alicante) aerodrome involving Bell 412SP helicopter EC-MMC and CASA 1131 Bucker Bü 131 Jungmann biplane N1950M.

The Spanish accident investigation agency, the CIAIAC, explain in their safety investigation report that:

The helicopter, operated by Babcock, was returning to the aerodrome after taking part in firefighting activities, while the biplane was on a private flight in the vicinity of the airport.

Babcock Bell 412 EC-MMC rnational Group PLC, and CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M, at the  Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

Babcock Bell 412 EC-MMC and CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M, at Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

alicante b412 biplane mac approaches

According to the helicopter pilot he made position reports on the aerodrome frequency on several occasions and notified that he was on final approach to runway 30 at the uncontrolled airfield without having received any communication from any other aircraft.

During the final approach, the rear of the helicopter was impacted, causing it to lose its tail rotor.

alicante b412 biplane mac approaches 2

As a result, the helicopter destabilized, although the crew managed to make an emergency landing in a level attitude and a clockwise yaw motion [from c 10m].

Babcock Bell 412 EC-MMC (Credit: via CIAIAC)

Babcock Bell 412 EC-MMC (Credit: via CIAIAC)

The biplane lost its right wings upon impacting the helicopter, as a result of which the pilot lost control of the aircraft, which crashed into the ground in an inverted position.

Wreckage of CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M at  Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

Wreckage of CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M at
Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

The [biplane] pilot died after the accident as a result of the injuries sustained.

Wreckage of CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M at  Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

Wreckage of CASA 1131 Biplane N1950M at
Mutxamel (Alicante) on 30 December 2017 (Credit: via CIAIAC)

The crew of the helicopter made an emergency landing and of its ten occupants, two were slightly injured. The rest were uninjured.

According to the CIAIAC:

The most likely cause of the accident was the failure of the pilot of the Bücker to detect the helicopter while on final approach to runway 30 at the Mutxamel aerodrome. The biplane was further back and in a higher position in the approach to land on the same runway.

The investigators say the following factors contributed to the accident:

  1. The non-use of communications by the pilot of the Bücker;
  2. The failure by the pilot of the Bücker to fly the aerodrome pattern and flying acrobatic maneuvers in the pattern

Other Mid Air Collision (MAC) Safety Resources

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