Pilot Announced Via The Radio That He Was Making An Emergency Landing

Location: Tuckers Crossing, MS Accident Number: CEN21LA102
Date & Time: December 29, 2020, 08:35 Local Registration: N103SU
Aircraft: Hughes 369D Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft ext. load

On December 29, 2020, about 0835 central standard time, a Hughes 369D helicopter, N103SU, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Tuckers Crossing, Mississippi. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 external load flight.

According to the operator, the pilot departed for the first flight of the day from a private landing zone to begin aerial tree trimming operations along a transmission line, which was about 2.7 miles from the departure location. The helicopter contained about 400 lbs. of fuel and was equipped with an external saw assembly that was about 120 ft in length. The mission’s ground support specialist (GSS), who was in communication with the pilot via radio, observed the helicopter approach the trimming zone from the south and it flew northbound to the east of the transmission line; the external saw was about 40 to 50 ft above the trees. The GSS advised the pilot on hazards located in the trimming zone. Shortly thereafter, the pilot announced via the radio that he was making an emergency landing. The GSS reported the helicopter made a quick forward descent until the saw disappeared into the tree line.

The helicopter impacted trees and the terrain, and a postimpact fire ensued. The accident site was located in wooded terrain to the east of the transmission line. The external saw was found connected to the helicopter and entangled in the trees. The main wreckage, which consisted of the fuselage, engine, main transmission, and rotor assembly, was consumed by the postimpact fire. The tail rotor assembly was separated from the tail boom near the tail rotor gearbox and found adjacent to the main wreckage.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov