Mi-26T Arctic VRS Accident 28 November 2018

Mi-26T Arctic VRS Accident 28 November 2018

UTair Mi-26T helicopter RA-06029 crashed on 28 November 2018 with the loss of one life, the aircraft commander.

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IACMAK)

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IAC/MAK)

Five other crew members survived, one with head and spinal injuries.  The helicopter was returning from delivering 17 t of “building materials” to Naulskaya in the Nenets Autonomous Area.  the 56 t Mi-26T can carry a maximum payload of 20 t.  It is powered by two 11,400 shp D-136 turboshafts and has a 32 m (105 ft) main rotor diameter.

Safety Investigation

The IAC/MAK safety investigation report (only available in Russian) revealed that during a night VFR flight, the aircraft descended from 2000 ft to around 15o ft AGL, and slowed to c 30 knots,  c 3 nm from its destination at Pizhma as the weather unexpectedly deteriorated.  The crew had not received a more recent forecast while unloading at Naulskaya.

The investigators say the helicopter impacted the ground 760m from Pizhma during a second approach attempt after entering a Vortex Ring State (VRS) while distracted by the visual search for the landing site.

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IACMAK)

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IAC/MAK): Note the adjacent oil pipelines

The accident was the result of the crew not making a timely decision to leave for the alternate aerodrome when the weather conditions on the landing site worsened to values ​​lower than those set for VFR.

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IACMAK)

UTair Mi-26T RA-06029 (Credit: IAC/MAK)

The investigators say contributory factors included:

  • unsatisfactory interaction of the crew
  • approach at altitudes and flight speeds less than those established by the Flight Manual
  • deficiencies in the selection of crew members capable of working away from base
  • lack of an effective control of deployed crews
  • deficiencies in the Safety Management System (SMS) which did not identify and reduce risk when performing operations in the difficult conditions of the Arctic.

A UTair Mi-26T (Credit: Shawn CC BY-SA 2.0)

Safety Resources


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