Hazardous Hangar Hovertaxi

Hazardous Hangar Hovertaxi

The pilot of Robinson R44 N804DF decided to hover-taxi into a hangar in Spofford, Texas because, as he told the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

…convective activity was approaching the airport and he did not have ground-handling equipment (wheels) to move the helicopter.

While that might be considered reckless by some, emboldened by successfully manoeuvring into the hangar:

The following morning [on 19 February 2017], he attempted to hover-taxi out of the hangar for a positioning flight….

Our regular readers will no doubt be anticipating what happened next:

…but the main rotor blade struck the top of the hangar door when the helicopter was about three-quarters of the way out of the hangar. Subsequently, the helicopter spun and rolled over onto its left side.

Robinson R44 N804DF (Credit: FAA via NTSB)

Robinson R44 N804DF (Credit: FAA via NTSB)

The pilot suffered minor injuries.  The aircraft was written off.

Unsurprisingly, the NTSB determined the probable cause as:

The pilot’s decision to hover-taxi out of the hangar and his subsequent failure to maintain clearance from the hangar.

Of particular concern is this was not a private aircraft but one operated by an air tour operator from whom a higher standard of airmanship, risk assessment and judgement should be expected..

Ground handling wheels come as standard with a new R44 (which retail from around $500k).  After-market ground handling wheels are availed for c$2k.

There is only one type of hangar it is acceptable to land ‘in’:

r22 hangar video

UPDATE 21 August 2021: Air Methods AS350B3 Night CFIT in Snow during a 3-minute positioning flight

UPDATE 9 October 2021: Gazelle Caught Out Jumping a Fence

UPDATE 30 October 2021: RLC B407 Reverses into Sister Ship at GOM Heliport

UPDATE 5 March 2022: Taxiing AW139 Blade Strike on Maintenance Stand

Aerossurance is pleased to be supporting the annual Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors’ (CIEHFHuman Factors in Aviation Safety Conference for the third year running.  This year the conference takes place 13 to 14 November 2017 at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport, UK with the theme: How do we improve human performance in today’s aviation business?

ciehf 2017

Aerossurance has extensive air safety, operations, airworthiness, human factors, aviation regulation and safety analysis experience.  For practical aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries@aerossurance.com