RLC B407 Reverses into Sister Ship at GOM Heliport (Bell 407s N662RL and N668RL at Paterson, LA)
On 25 September 2021 Rotorcraft Leasing Company (RLC) Bell 407 N662RL was lifting off for departure from a heliport in Patterson, Louisiana when it drifted backwards into Bell 407 N668RL.
Documents filed with the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) state that N662RL was departing from pad D3 at the RLC Patterson heliport with one pilot and three passengers aboard. They were destined for a Gulf of Mexico offshore installation in Mississippi Canyon Block 194 (MC194) and then Ewing Bank Block 873 (EW873). The pilot had 1479 hours of flight experience, 255 on type.
The tail rotor of N662RL contact the main rotor of N668RL that was rotor running with passengers aboard on pad D5. N662RL landed hard in a ditch.
The three occupants of N662RL were uninjured and there are no reports of other injuries. Minimal information is in the NTSB Preliminary Report at time of writing.
The RLC Patterson heliport is to the south of Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport, Patterson, an airport that features a runway and a seaway for floatplanes.
The heliport has a typical non-ICAO Annex 14 compliant GOM heliport configuration and this accident highlights the challenges that some of the more fanciful Advanced Air Mobility vertiports will face.
UPDATE 16 November 2021: The NTSB issued the following unhelpful statement as their probable cause:
The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate clearance from a parked helicopter while hovering to reposition for takeoff.
We consider this unhelpful as it is simply a self-evident statement of the circumstances, not an explanation of why the accident happened.
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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