Pilot Was Assigned To Spray A 380-Acre Cornfield

Location: Logan, IA Accident Number: CEN20LA330
Date & Time: August 8, 2020, 18:45 Local Registration: N89LA
Aircraft: Robinson R44 Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On August 8, 2020, about 1845 central daylight time, a Robinson R-44II helicopter, N89LA, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Logan, Iowa. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

The pilot was assigned to spray a 380-acre cornfield. The pilot had just completed several spray runs and was turning to line up for another run, when he heard the engine emit a “pop” noise and the engine then accelerated. The pilot pulled pitch to slow the engine with no avail. The pilot reported he had control of the helicopter, but he did not have control of the engine speed. The pilot attempted to flare and land the helicopter; however, the helicopter impacted an area of rising terrain and came to rest on its right side.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, the main rotor system, the tailboom, and the tail rotor system. The helicopter was recovered from the accident site for a future examination of the airframe and engine.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov