FOD and an AS350B3 Accident Landing on a Yacht in Bergen

FOD and an AS350B3 Accident Landing on a Yacht in Bergen 

On 10 May 2017 Airbus Helicopters AS350B3 G-HKCN of HQ Aviation crashed into the sea while attempting to land on the 60m yacht Bacarella outside Bergen harbour in Norway.

The helicopter falling in to the fjord (Credit: unknown)

The helicopter falling in to the fjord (Credit: unknown)

The aircraft capsized after what was a Survivable Water Impact rather than a controlled ditching. The pilot reportedly re-entered the aircraft and activated the Emergency Flotation System (there was no Automatic Float Deployment System [AFDS] fitted) and assisted the two passengers to egress.

The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue 13m rescue craft Bjarne Kyrkjebø was coincidentally near-by and was able to make a quick rescue of the three people onboard the helicopter, all of whom are reported to have been wearing survival suits. One person is reported to have serious injuries and two had minor injuries.

RS 140 Bjarne Kyrkjebø (Credit: Redningsselskapet)

RS 140 Bjarne Kyrkjebø (Credit: Redningsselskapet)

The helicopter had been ferried to Norway that day from the UK.  The Cayman Island-registered superyacht Bacarella was built in 2009 and can accommodate up to 10 guests and eight crew.

The 60 m Trinity superyacht Bacarella (Credit: Unknown)

The 60m Trinity superyacht Bacarella – the deck area with sun loungers can be cleared to give a limited landing area (Credit: Unknown)

The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN - the Statens Havarikommisjon for Transport [SHT] in Norwegian) issued an initial update on 12 May 2017:

The AIBN has received video clips of the accident taken from different positions. Among these also from a CCTV camera on the helicopter deck of the yacht.

As the helicopter was coming in for landing, the yacht camera show a cover being lifted up in the air by the main rotor downdraft. It went through the main rotor disc. The cover was custom made for hiding a fuel depot newly installed on the helideck.

The pilot has explained that he observed the cover moving and attempted to avoid it by initiating a climb. The cover hit the main rotor, and control over the helicopter was apparently lost. It rotated around its vertical axis while moving backwards, and struck the sea tail first.

A video from shore is online:

This highlights the importance of FOD control on vessels expecting helicopters for winching or landing.

BP recently shared a video on the threat of downwash (albeit with larger helicopters):

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