NTSB Report: Helicopter Accident with Golf Cart was Preventable
By Wendy Osher
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say a helicopter accident with a golf cart at the Kahului Airport in September could have been prevented if ground staff had followed established procedures.
The NTSB released the incident report on Nov. 20, saying, the ground crew is supposed to be in front of the aircraft when clearing the copter for hover and takeoff; but that the pilot could have insisted that this procedure was followed.
The incident was reported at around 2 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2014. According to NTSB reports, the Eurocopter craft operated by Hawaiʻi Helicopters, was undergoing maintenance to correct the track and balance of the main rotor when the accident occurred.
According to the report, the craft had already hovered for readings five times without incident. Following the fifth shutdown, maintenance brought out an auxiliary power unit , which is in a golf cart, so the helicopter could be started up without continuing use of its own battery power.
The report states that the helicopter was started and then the power unit was unplugged. The NTSB states that the cart was parked on the right side of the helicopter and that ground personnel could not see the golf cart at the angle that the aircraft was positioned.
At an approximate 5-foot hover, the NTSB report states that the craft turned slightly left and the tail rotor contacted the windshield of the golf cart, destroying the windshield and the tail rotor. The pilot was able to land the craft and shutdown the helicopter without further incident.
According to the NTSB, the aircraft received substantial damage to its tail rotor, the tail boom, and its horizontal stabilizer.
The NTSB report states that the cart could have been moved “if a clear policy was in place to ensure that a second person is always with the golf cart.”
No injuries were reported.