NYPD B429 Accident at Manhattan Heliport “Overapplication of Flight Controls”

NYPD Bell 429 Accident at Manhattan Heliport “Overapplication of Flight Controls” (N920PD)

On 13 December 2021 New York City Police Department (NYPD) Bell 429 N920PD was damaged while landing at the Downtown Manhattan Wall Street Heliport, NY. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) explain in their safety investigation report (issued 14 June 2022) that:

The pilot reported that during landing and once established directly over the helipad, he proceeded to hover taxi over to the assigned landing location, but during touchdown the helicopter unexpectedly shifted forward, rotating onto the front skids, then began to oscillate.

The crew heard a loud “bang” and subsequently the helicopter became airborne briefly before settling down hard on the pavement and the helicopter started to go into ground resonance, becoming uncontrollable. The pilot reported that the helipad was congested with several other aircraft on the ground and two preparing to land, so when the helicopter became uncontrollable, he “dumped” the collective and rolled back the throttle.

NYPD Bell 429 Landing Accident Downtown Manhattan Wall Street Heliport (Credit NTSB)

NYPD Bell 429 Landing Accident Downtown Manhattan Wall Street Heliport (Credit: NYPD via NTSB)

During the oscillations, the main rotor blades stuck the wire strike protection system, which resulted in substantial damage to the rotor blades.

As well as damage to all four main rotor blades and the WSPS, the landing skids collapsed, the cockpit centre pedestal supports were bent, there was fuselage cracking, damage to the MX-10 turret and an antenna, and leaks of fuel and hydraulic fluid.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilots overapplication of flight controls during landing, which resulted in the rotor blades contacting the wire strike protection system and subsequent hard landing.

Safety Resources

The European Safety Promotion Network Rotorcraft (ESPN-R) has a helicopter safety discussion group on LinkedIn.  You may also find these Aerossurance articles of interest:

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