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Mon, Nov 19, 2018

Pilot Reports Losing Consciousness Prior To Helicopter Accident

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report From Hard Landing In Hawaii

The NTSB has released a preliminary report from a hard landing incident in Hawaii that seriously injured a Robinson R44 commercial pilot and two passengers last month.

According to the report, on October 22, 2018, about 1710 Hawaiian standard time, the Robinson R44 helicopter, N4132H, was substantially damaged during a hard landing on the Kaneohe Sandbar, a large area of sand covered by shallow water, located in Kaneohe Bay, near Kaneohe, Hawaii. The helicopter was registered to Higgins Leasing Inc. and operated by Novictor Aviation as an air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and a company flight plan was filed. The helicopter originated from Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii at 1647, and was planned to complete a 45-minute circle island route flight.

In a statement from the pilot, about 20 minutes into the flight he felt himself lose consciousness; moments later he regained consciousness and control of the helicopter. The pilot changed course from following along the coast to turning towards the coast, then prepared himself for a precautionary landing. Seconds later he lost consciousness again, then woke up from the actions of the first responders. The pilot remembers being in a dream-like state during his loss of consciousness, and in the dream-like state, he was piloting the helicopter and knew that he was in an emergency situation. Although he didn't know what the emergency was, he remembers not quite seeing the instruments and that it was important that he not let go of the helicopter controls. The passengers stated in an interview, that they remember the pilot slumping over during the flight, and the front seat passenger grabbing the controls to slow the descent before impacting the sandbar.

The pilot began working for the operator in May 2018 and has not had any medical problems since that time. The pilot possessed a current second-class airman medical with no restrictions. The pilot accumulated 1,451 total flight hours in the make and model and 273 flight hours in the make and model in the last 90 days.

The helicopter landed on a sandbar in about 2 ft of water and came to rest on its left side. The main rotor mast was bent forward, both skids had impact damage and the tailboom was bent to one side. The wreckage was relocated the next day to a secured location for examination.

The helicopter, which was manufactured and registered to the owner in 2015, was equipped with a Lycoming O-540-F1B5 series engine.

(Source: NTSB. Image from file. Not accident aircraft)

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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