French TV AS350 Helicopter Accident in Argentina (UPDATED with final accident report)
The mid air collision of two Airbus AS350 (H125) helicopters on 9 March 2015 resulted in the death of all 10 people on board during the filming of a French TV programme, Dropped, for TF1 in Argentina. The accident highlights the importance of risk assessment, planning and preparation for any aerial activity.
Two AS350s were involved, both from different local government bodies: LQ-CGK and LQ-FJQ. At least one is reported to have been a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) aircraft loaned to the film makers. Of the 10 people onboard, 3 were French sports stars, 5 French TV personnel and two local pilots. The accident happened near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province in north-west Argentina. The area is in the foothills of the Andes and is about 1300m above sea level.
The Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) has issued a statement:
The BEA has been notified of the accident that occurred between two Airbus Helicopters AS 350’s in the province of Rioja in Argentina yesterday, Monday 9 March. The two helicopters, registered respectively LQ-FJQ and LQ-CGK, had eight French passengers and two Argentinian pilots on board.
In accordance with international provisions the BEA, representing the State of Design and Manufacture of the helicopters, will participate in the Safety Investigation that has been initiated by its Argentinian counterpart, the JIAAC (Junta de Investigación de Accidentes de Aviación Civil).
Two investigators from the BEA, accompanied by a technical adviser from Airbus Helicopters and a technical adviser from Turbomeca, are travelling to Argentina today.
Flight International have commented on video footage of the accident. Time have published a piece critical of the production company and French reality TV in general. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1iKgZzPyXU
UPDATE 22 June 2015: NTSB has issued a report on another fatal accident, this time a Loss of Control – Inflight at night, while filming a reality television show for the Discovery Channel, involving Bell 206B N59518 in California 0n 10 Feb 2013: NTSB faults pilot, inspector in reality TV helicopter crash. The filming was organised by the production company EyeWorks USA, which has since rebranded itself as 3 Ball Entertainment.
UPDATE 10 August 2015: In the case of the US accident, it is now reported that an out of court settlement has been reached.
UPDATE 24 August 2015: Another accident has occurred in the US and is covered in an article that looks at safety in TV.
UPDATE 13 December 2015: Another TV helicopter accident in Argentina is reported: MTV helicopter crash kills two in Argentina
JIAAC Safety Investigation Final Report
UPDATE 17 December 2015: The JIAAC accident report on the March 2015 collision has been issued. The accident investigators stating” In an operation classified as aerial work, which involved the transport of passengers and air-air filming activity, there was an in-flight collision between the two participating aircrafts”. The collision was caused by the combination of the following factors:
- Location of the helicopter that was filming (LQ-FJQ), from the “outside”, in the path of both aircrafts, that significantly limited the visual contact of the pilot who had to move forward in flight in order to film the target (LQCGK);
- Lack of a formal assessment of the safety risks for an unusual operation (filming and flight in proximity), which prevented the identification and analysis of the dangers inherent to that operation, and the adoption of mitigation actions, requirement not equired by the current regulations;
- Deficiencies in the operation planning that led to the accident, including the failure of observing the “see and be seen” concept or an evasive maneuver if visual contact is lost between both aircrafts;
- Lack of formal procedures in accordance with the nature of the operations performed;
- The use of aircrafts whose public identification prefix does not imply providing logistics and aerial support for filming of a completely private nature;
- Ambiguity in the observance of regulations related to air operations of public aircrafts;
Mid Air Collision (MAC) Safety Resources
UPDATE 9 March 2019: Aerossurance has previously published:
- Military Mid Air Collisions
- Military Airprox in Sweden
- North Sea S-92A Helicopter Airprox Feb 2017
- Mid Air Collision Typhoon & Learjet 35
- USMC CH-53E Readiness Crisis and Mid Air Collision Catastrophe
- Avoiding Mid Air Collisions: 5 Seconds to Impact
- AAIB Highlight Electronic Conspicuity and the Limitations of See and Avoid after Mid Air Collision a UK accident where a light single fixed wing aircraft descended into a helicopter.
- Fatal Biplane/Helicopter Mid Air Collision in Spain, 30 December 2017
- A319 / Cougar Airprox at MRS: ATC Busy, Failed Transponder and Helicopter Filtered From Radar
- Merlin Night Airprox: Systemic Issues
- Airbus Helicopters AS350B3 I-EDIC engaged in heli-skiing and Jodel D.140E Mousquetaire IV F-PMGV collided in mid air over the Rutor Glacier in Italy. Eight of the nine persons on board the two aircraft died
Aerossurance is pleased to be supporting the annual Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors’ (CIEHF) Human Factors in Aviation Safety Conference for the third year running. We will be presenting for the second year running too. 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?