The Flight Instructor Believed They Might Have Struck Birds…

Location: Chandler, AZ Accident Number: WPR22FA001
Date & Time: October 1, 2021, 07:40 Local Registration: N412TL (A1); N2868H (A2)
Aircraft: Robinson Helicopter Company R22 (A1); Piper PA-28-181 (A2) Injuries: 2 Fatal (A1); 2 None (A2)
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Instructional (A1); Part 91: General aviation – Instructional (A2)

On October 1, 2021, about 0740 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-181 airplane, N2868H, and a Robinson R22 helicopter, N412TL, were involved in a midair collision near Chandler, Arizona. The airplane sustained minor damage and the helicopter was destroyed. The flight instructor and student pilot of N2868H, were not injured. The flight instructor and student pilot of N412TL, were fatally injured. Both aircraft were operated as Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flights.

Both aircraft were in parallel traffic patterns at Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD), and a review of recorded communications revealed that both aircraft were in contact with air traffic control tower personnel. The airplane was operating in a closed right traffic pattern for runway 4R and had been cleared to land. The helicopter was operating in a closed right traffic pattern for Taxiway C and had been “cleared for the option.” Shortly after the airplane turned final for Runway 4R, the airplane flight instructor radioed the tower and reported that they felt and heard a loud bang. The flight instructor believed they might have struck birds, advised the tower, and declared an emergency. He requested that tower look at the landing gear. Tower personnel confirmed they had 3 landing gear extended and again cleared them to land.

During the landing flare, the flight instructor noticed the left wing continued to descend. He utilized aileron inputs to keep the wing up. After the airplane touched down, it veered left and exited the runway before it came to rest in the infield between runway 04R and 04L.

During the same timeframe, witnesses reported a downed helicopter in the vicinity of the Chandler Airport. Shortly after, first responders identified the wreckage of N412TL. The helicopter impacted terrain about .5 mile southwest of the approach end of runway 04R. A postcrash fire ensued.

Recorded Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that the accident aircraft were operating in VFR traffic patterns at CHD. Both aircraft appeared to be on a base to final turn with the airplane making an approach to runway 04R and the helicopter making an approach to taxiway C (parallel to and to the right of runway 04R). The data showed both aircrafts’ flight paths intersected about 0740:15 at an altitude of about 1,400 ft mean sea level (msl).

Both aircraft were recovered and secured in a storage facility pending further examination.