|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0001 To 0600|
|Locale Reference||airport : zzz|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 0
|Operator||common carrier : air taxi|
|Make Model Name||Helicopter|
|Flight Phase||landing other|
|Affiliation||company : air taxi|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
pilot : cfi
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 74|
flight time total : 4436
flight time type : 1435
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||aircraft equipment other aircraft equipment : unspecified|
other flight crewa
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : declared emergency|
none taken : anomaly accepted
none taken : unable
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
Upon receipt of the emergency call we checked WX and computed required fuel load. I checked fuel requirements twice since I had left out some miles for the drop off of the patient. I showed a requirement for 446 pounds of fuel. The aircraft had 450 pounds of fuel on board so I chose not to put on additional fuel due to additional delays which would be incurred and the need to launch as soon as possible. Outside temperatures were in the 30's so bleed air heat was required, additionally anti-ice was used due to light snow showers en route. Winds appeared to be stronger than the original northwest at 16K at 3000. My ground speed by LORAN was indicating 85 KTS (cruise indicated 107K). The patient was picked up at the hospital a with return to ZZZ helipad (roof top). The flight leg had been 53 min outbnd which normally would have been about 44 no wind. I expected to pick up some time on the return. However, my ground speed was only 115K (100K indicated). I was aware fuel burn seemed to be higher than expected and fuel remaining was less than expected. It looked like I would be into fuel reserves by the time I landed at ZZZ roof top heliport. I computed what I believed to be about 10 min of fuel remaining by the time I landed at the final destination at XXX. After dropping the patient at ZZZ I was approximately 4-5 min out of zzzhelipad and the fuel low light came on indicating 18-20 min of fuel remaining. I had 4-5 min till ZZZ and an additional 5-6 min till XXX. While the crew was off loading and caring for the patient I examined fuel loads more closely. The gauge indicated 50 pounds of fuel. Our planning numbers are conservative and according to planning numbers we should have had at least 57 pounds. Fuel burn had been more than planned. According to my computations I had 12 min remaining and a remaining flight of 5-6 min. I would still land with 6-7 min of reserve fuel. Because of the difficulty in getting fuel to the 9TH floor helipad from the airport I considered it safe enough to continue to base. The fuel low light had not been calibrated so I did not put much trust in it other than a warning. We took off from ZZZ pad. The fuel level seemed to be dropping much faster the last 100 pounds on the scale and especially below 50 pounds. A fuel boost pump came on on downwind for landing to the ramp so I set up for an autorotation engine out landing. The second boost pump light came on I was headed generally into the wind and flared slightly with power at 50' AGL. The engine began to quit and at 25-30 it came back to life in one power surge yawing strongly right and then left as it finally quit. The aircraft landed roughly and slid about 30'. We checked for damage and found the tail was wrinkled on both sides just aft of the attach points. The most obvious error is judgement of flying into reserves. More credence should have been given to the fuel low light since it turned out to be more conservative than the gauge. Adverse winds (apparently more than forecast) was a factor. Use of bleed air sources likely contributed some to higher burn rates. The best solution to such an event is to always take the most conservative fuel situation into account. Consider a fuel low light an emergency situation not flying into reserves unless no choice exists. Never completely trust fuel gauges.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: EMS HELICOPTER RETURNING TO ZZZ AFTER EMS FLT RUNS OUT OF FUEL WHILE ON APCH TO LAND. HARD LNDG AND SKID RESULT FROM LOW ALT AUTO ROTATION IN COMBINATION WITH SURGING ENGINE. ACFT DAMAGED BUT NO INJURIES.
Narrative: UPON RECEIPT OF THE EMER CALL WE CHECKED WX AND COMPUTED REQUIRED FUEL LOAD. I CHECKED FUEL REQUIREMENTS TWICE SINCE I HAD LEFT OUT SOME MILES FOR THE DROP OFF OF THE PATIENT. I SHOWED A REQUIREMENT FOR 446 LBS OF FUEL. THE ACFT HAD 450 LBS OF FUEL ON BOARD SO I CHOSE NOT TO PUT ON ADDITIONAL FUEL DUE TO ADDITIONAL DELAYS WHICH WOULD BE INCURRED AND THE NEED TO LAUNCH AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. OUTSIDE TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE 30'S SO BLEED AIR HEAT WAS REQUIRED, ADDITIONALLY ANTI-ICE WAS USED DUE TO LIGHT SNOW SHOWERS ENRTE. WINDS APPEARED TO BE STRONGER THAN THE ORIGINAL NW AT 16K AT 3000. MY GND SPEED BY LORAN WAS INDICATING 85 KTS (CRUISE INDICATED 107K). THE PATIENT WAS PICKED UP AT THE HOSPITAL A WITH RETURN TO ZZZ HELIPAD (ROOF TOP). THE FLT LEG HAD BEEN 53 MIN OUTBND WHICH NORMALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT 44 NO WIND. I EXPECTED TO PICK UP SOME TIME ON THE RETURN. HOWEVER, MY GND SPEED WAS ONLY 115K (100K INDICATED). I WAS AWARE FUEL BURN SEEMED TO BE HIGHER THAN EXPECTED AND FUEL REMAINING WAS LESS THAN EXPECTED. IT LOOKED LIKE I WOULD BE INTO FUEL RESERVES BY THE TIME I LANDED AT ZZZ ROOF TOP HELIPORT. I COMPUTED WHAT I BELIEVED TO BE ABOUT 10 MIN OF FUEL REMAINING BY THE TIME I LANDED AT THE FINAL DEST AT XXX. AFTER DROPPING THE PATIENT AT ZZZ I WAS APPROX 4-5 MIN OUT OF ZZZHELIPAD AND THE FUEL LOW LIGHT CAME ON INDICATING 18-20 MIN OF FUEL REMAINING. I HAD 4-5 MIN TILL ZZZ AND AN ADDITIONAL 5-6 MIN TILL XXX. WHILE THE CREW WAS OFF LOADING AND CARING FOR THE PATIENT I EXAMINED FUEL LOADS MORE CLOSELY. THE GAUGE INDICATED 50 LBS OF FUEL. OUR PLANNING NUMBERS ARE CONSERVATIVE AND ACCORDING TO PLANNING NUMBERS WE SHOULD HAVE HAD AT LEAST 57 LBS. FUEL BURN HAD BEEN MORE THAN PLANNED. ACCORDING TO MY COMPUTATIONS I HAD 12 MIN REMAINING AND A REMAINING FLT OF 5-6 MIN. I WOULD STILL LAND WITH 6-7 MIN OF RESERVE FUEL. BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY IN GETTING FUEL TO THE 9TH FLOOR HELIPAD FROM THE ARPT I CONSIDERED IT SAFE ENOUGH TO CONTINUE TO BASE. THE FUEL LOW LIGHT HAD NOT BEEN CALIBRATED SO I DID NOT PUT MUCH TRUST IN IT OTHER THAN A WARNING. WE TOOK OFF FROM ZZZ PAD. THE FUEL LEVEL SEEMED TO BE DROPPING MUCH FASTER THE LAST 100 LBS ON THE SCALE AND ESPECIALLY BELOW 50 LBS. A FUEL BOOST PUMP CAME ON ON DOWNWIND FOR LNDG TO THE RAMP SO I SET UP FOR AN AUTOROTATION ENGINE OUT LNDG. THE SECOND BOOST PUMP LIGHT CAME ON I WAS HEADED GENERALLY INTO THE WIND AND FLARED SLIGHTLY WITH POWER AT 50' AGL. THE ENGINE BEGAN TO QUIT AND AT 25-30 IT CAME BACK TO LIFE IN ONE POWER SURGE YAWING STRONGLY RIGHT AND THEN LEFT AS IT FINALLY QUIT. THE ACFT LANDED ROUGHLY AND SLID ABOUT 30'. WE CHECKED FOR DAMAGE AND FOUND THE TAIL WAS WRINKLED ON BOTH SIDES JUST AFT OF THE ATTACH POINTS. THE MOST OBVIOUS ERROR IS JUDGEMENT OF FLYING INTO RESERVES. MORE CREDENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO THE FUEL LOW LIGHT SINCE IT TURNED OUT TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN THE GAUGE. ADVERSE WINDS (APPARENTLY MORE THAN FORECAST) WAS A FACTOR. USE OF BLEED AIR SOURCES LIKELY CONTRIBUTED SOME TO HIGHER BURN RATES. THE BEST SOLUTION TO SUCH AN EVENT IS TO ALWAYS TAKE THE MOST CONSERVATIVE FUEL SITUATION INTO ACCOUNT. CONSIDER A FUEL LOW LIGHT AN EMER SITUATION NOT FLYING INTO RESERVES UNLESS NO CHOICE EXISTS. NEVER COMPLETELY TRUST FUEL GAUGES.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.