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Accident Report Detail

Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV

Executive Summary

‚ÄčOn July 27, 2007, about 1246 mountain standard time, two electronic news gathering (ENG) helicopters, N613TV and N215TV, collided in midair while maneuvering in Phoenix, Arizona. The Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopters, from local channels 3 and 15, had been covering a police pursuit. N613TV, the channel 3 helicopter, was operated by KTVK-TV, and N215TV, the channel 15 helicopter, was operated by U.S. Helicopters, Inc., under contract to KNXV-TV. Each helicopter had a pilot-reporter and a photographer on board. The occupants on board both helicopters were killed, and the helicopters were destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The helicopters were operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. No flight plans had been filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The safety issues discussed in this report focus on the limitations associated with the primary method of separation used during ENG operations; methods for improving an ENG pilot's awareness of other helicopters operating in the same area; and the need for (1) meetings of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and ENG personnel to discuss operational procedures and manage risk, (2) ENG best practices guidelines, and (3) flight recorder systems for smaller aircraft. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the FAA.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was both pilots' failure to see and avoid the other helicopter. Contributing to this failure was the pilots' responsibility to perform reporting and visual tracking duties to support their station's ENG operation. Contributing to the accident was the lack of formal procedures for Phoenix-area ENG pilots to follow regarding the conduct of these operations.

Accident Location: Phoenix , AZ    
Accident Date: 7/27/2007
Accident ID: LAX07MA231AB

Date Adopted: 1/28/2009
NTSB Number: AAR-09-02
NTIS Number: PB2009-910402