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On March 6, 2015, about 2310 central standard time, an Airbus Helicopters EC130 B4 helicopter, N356AM, operated by Air Methods Corporation, doing business as ARCH, struck the edge of a hospital building and impacted its parking lot near St. Louis, Missouri, during approach to an elevated rooftop helipad. The helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The pilot was the sole occupant and sustained fatal thermal injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. The NTSB’s ongoing investigation determined that the accident was immediately survivable in the absence of a postcrash fire.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Once Airbus Helicopters completes development of a retrofit kit to incorporate a crash-resistant fuel system into AS350B3e and similarly designed variants, prioritize its approval to accelerate its availability to operators.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
St Louis, MO, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that, on January 30, 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued supplemental type certificate (STC) 10060852 to Airbus Helicopters, which addresses installing CRFSs in AS350 B3 helicopters (including the AS350 B3e model). We further note that, on July 12, 2017, you issued STC SR03931NY, which validates the EASA STC and approves retrofit CRFS installation in AS350 B3e model helicopters in the United States. Issuing STC SR03931NY satisfies Safety Recommendation A-16-8, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Daniel K. Elwell, Acting Administrator: On January 30, 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued to Airbus Helicopters a supplemental type certificate (STC) 10060852 that addresses crash resistant fuel system (CRFS) installation in AS350 BJ helicopters. including the AS350 B3e model. A copy of this EASA STC is enclosed with this letter. On July 12. 2017. the Federal Aviation Administration· s (FAA) New York Aircraft Certification Branch issued STC SR0393 I NY, at the request of Airbus Helicopters. that validates the EASA STC and approves the retrofit installation of a CRFS in AS350 8 3 model helicopters with an Arriel 2D engine (AS350 133e). A copy of this STC is available at the following website: http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/7505b9534eb58c2286258/83005798cc/$FILE/SR0393INY.pdf.
We note that, once Airbus Helicopters has developed a CRFS retrofit kit for the AS350 B3e and other similarly designed variants, you intend to work with the European Aviation Safety Agency to validate the certification design changes for the affected Airbus helicopters. Pending your timely approval of the retrofit kits for these helicopters, Safety Recommendation A-16-008 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agrees with the Board's recommendations. However, we believe a general discussion of accidents with postcrash fires would be more beneficial in the SAIB to encourage the retrofit of existing helicopters with a Crash Resistant Fuel System (CRFS) than a discussion of the specific accidents that resulted in these recommendations. As the Board is aware, SAIBs are not mandatory and are intended to be an information and advisory system. SAIBs encourage the implementation of new approaches or make affected parties aware of a potential issue, along with the means to mitigate the associated risk. The typical distribution for an SAIB includes all known aircraft owners and operators, FAA Flight Standards Field Offices, and manufacturers. The FAA will work with the European Aviation Safety Agency to validate the certification design changes of the CRFS for the affected Airbus helicopters. We will also encourage the retrofit installation of the CRFS to all helicopter owners and operators using the SAIB, as well as discussions with operators during our safety outreach programs and any other opportunities that may arise. I will keep the Board informed of the progress of these recommendations and provide an update by September 2017.
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