Midair at FDK (Frederick, MD)

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Pedals2Paddles, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Pedals2Paddles

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    Still trying to find out details. I know a Cirrus popped their chute. I believe the other was a helicopter.

    Edit/Update:
    A cirrus (N122ES) and an R44 helicopter (N7518Q) collided in the pattern. The helicopter went down near some self storage units with all three killed. The cirrus popped the chute and is down in some fields and trees, not sure exactly. Serious injuries.

    Audio from LiveATC is attached. Warning, it is bad.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  2. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    Helicopter 18Q and Cirrus 2ES collided in the pattern. I just played the live ATC audio. It's gut wrenching.
     
  3. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  4. Brad Z

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  5. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    Here's the audio. Cirrus 122ES and an R44 7518Q. I believe all dead were on the helicopter.

    Three helicopters in the pattern. They usually operate over the grass. There is a helicopter school on the field. Cirrus was downwind, instructed to maintain altitude until turning until base, three helicopters below. A few seconds later, it was over.

    I'm not kidding guys. The audio is painful to listen to. If you cry easily, just don't.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  6. mirage00

    mirage00 Pattern Altitude

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    Don't listen to the audio, it will just make you sick.
     
  7. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    LiveATC?
     
  8. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    Look two posts up. I already pulled the audio and edited it down. It's bad. Just had to call all my friends and family to let them know it wasn't me. Sad day at the field.
     
  9. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    Thanks.

    I won't.
     
  10. Flymeariver

    Flymeariver Pattern Altitude

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    Audio is just sad to hear. News shows all 3 are from helo. Cirrus has two at hospital, 1 serious condition
     
  11. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Pattern Altitude

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    man, how awful!
     
  12. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Pattern Altitude

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    That was hard to listen to. Brings me back to one of my primary CFIs and a student of his being involved in a midair at CRQ.. RIP to the ones lost.
     
  13. MtnMarcus

    MtnMarcus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wow......that audio is brutal
     
  14. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Reminder, folks, this is a towered field. Towers will not save your bacon from this sort of thing.

    Eyes on a swivel!
     
  15. mikea

    mikea Touchdown! Greaser!

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  16. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    In the pattern, so at best 600-1000 AGL. Not much room to work with, even with the chute.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  17. mirage00

    mirage00 Pattern Altitude

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    The audio had the cirrus maintaining 1000 or above until turning base to remain clear of helicopters below. Either he went to low or the helicopter was too high. This is just so sad. I was going flying tomorrow but I'm not sure now since this one shook me up.
     
  18. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    Me too, and this my field too so it's not helping. My friend I own our 150 with knows the pilot of the helicopter.
     
  19. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Seems reasonable. Only thing of learning value, if any, from the audio was that the tower warned the Cirrus pilot of 3 helicopters in the pattern. The Cirrus pilot appears to have acknowledged having 2 of the helicopters in sight. Doesn't mean the 1 unseen helicopter was the one they collided with, but the possibility comes to mind vs running into a helicopter you have acquired.
     
  20. mikea

    mikea Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, the media won't have to go too far to get comments from AOPA.
     
  21. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    There is a very active helicopter school at FDK. They have operations in and out of the grass all day long, every day. They often fly their patterns to the opposite side for separation, especially since the grass is on that side. All while there is fixed wing traffic coming and going in parallel on the runway. I never was crazy about it, especially when there are multiple. Now I know why I wasn't crazy about it.
     
  22. pilot_dude

    pilot_dude En-Route

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    I'll state the obvious, not good :(
     
  23. valittu

    valittu Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wow. Very sad.
    It was like I was hearing something that was private. My deepest condolences to the lost.
     
  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Wow... RIP

    It will be interesting to hear the Cirrus drivers description and read the NTSB on this. So did the Cirrus descend into the third helo?
     
  25. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    My closest call was departing the pattern at Opa Locka, a towered field, in a Citabria. A helicopter passed over us so close we felt the "WHUMP" before we ever saw it. Closing from the right rear and above it was unannounced and virtually invisible, at least to me in the back seat - and probably from the front as well.

    Sadly, Opa Locka did eventually have a fatal midair, between a GA plane and a Coast Guard helicopter.

    Be careful out there!
     
  26. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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  27. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    I just played back the Cirrus radar track on Flight Radar 24. Good tracking, all the way to scene. The cirrus was quite obviously descending to and entering the downwind on a 45. The collision was abeam the departure end of the runway, right where you would typically be coming up into pattern altitude

    Based on the location and altitudes, I'd say it is quite likely the helicopter was in the blind spot of the low wing cirrus making a right turn into downwind. And the helicopter was probably just leveling off at TPA shortly after turning downwind.

    If so, it is quite likely neither are explicitly at fault. It just sucks.

    I screen captured the FlightRadar24 track of the scene, and edited in where the collision took place. Red X marks the spot.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  28. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    I hate to say it....but, I'm not surprised.

    The tower is little help with traffic....and they were needed in this case. :sad:

    The poor gal....didn't rise to the occasion. I too am based at FDK.
     
  29. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I disagree. She did it right. Called out all traffic (three helicopters), told him to maintain an altitude to avoid said helicopters... even then, she's a TOWER controller, and their sole separation responsibility is traffic ON THE RUNWAY... anything else is gravy. I feel for her having to deal with this, though.
     
  30. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    why did she send it over there on a left base....?

    to the west....into the sun. The SR-22 didn't have a chance seeing all the traffic. They are the worst.
     
  31. Pedals2Paddles

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    She's a good controller. She's only human, and only has eyes. She told the cirrus to report mid field downwind, which is correct. Nobody was on base anywhere. She told him to stay above 1000 until turning base. The accident happened long before that point. It happened early in the downwind, prior to midfield.

    She was also just issuing an IFR clearance on ground about 20 seconds before the collision. So it is unlikely she was entirely focused on following every aircraft's every movement in detail. You can't read clearances and watch traffic at the same time.

    But the FAA's budget people seem to think that is ok. And I guarantee you 110%, mark my words today, THAT will be a factor in this accident.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  32. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    never been a mid air.....even before the tower....these tower folks are contract...so FAA budget has no affect on this.

    I'm not a happy camper. Helo training and aircraft training don't mix well....and she didn't help.
     
  33. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm also not surprised given how busy FDK is & the airspace compression there - almost expected it to be a transient rather than based pilots. I don't like flying into FDK - still dangerous at HEF, but the runways are parallel.
     
  34. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    BS helo training mixes just fine with fixed wing traffic. Someone screwed up here, same old story. My money is on the cirrus being too low.
     
  35. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    she should have had them on different sides of the runway....the helos always operate on the right and fixed on the left....

    She should have sent him around on the other side of the runway....for a right pattern.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  36. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    When I taught in helicopters we were often on the same side using parellel grass runway and 600' pattern well inside fied wing pattern. Audio didn't work for me, cirrus turn early and t-bone the helicopter?
     
  37. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sir, you are incorrect. Listen again and look at the map I posted. The cirrus was not taking off. The cirrus was entering the pattern from the south west. The helicopter was taking off.

    There is no right side of the runway when 30 is active. That's the edge of the airport. That setup with helicopters and fixed wing on opposite sides only works when 5/23 is active because the big field is there between the ramp and the runway. There is nowhere else for the helicopters to operate. And the noise abatement does not allow right traffic for 30 for the fixed wings. So everyone is sharing the same airspace when 12/30 is active, like it or not. The controller did nothing wrong.

    It was see-and-avoid traffic, while turning and changing altitudes, with the sun in the background, the the controller working IFR clearances on ground. Lots of factors add up and intersect at a bad time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  38. Bravo

    Bravo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    RIP. This shouldn't have happened. I fly into Frederick a lot. Why they would put an airplane anywhere near that helicopter is beyond me. So sad. My thought is she should have had him change course or something knowing she was putting him within such close proximity of those helicopterS.
     
  39. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    SR-22 should have flown a right pattern vs. a left pattern across the helo traffic area.

    A right pattern would have taken the aircraft around the long way....but no where near the helos.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  40. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    I'll say it again on this board too. Rich, you need to listen to the recording is see the flight path posted previously. He was approaching the airport, not taking off.

    Alternatively, perhaps we could sit back and reserve judgment until after we know the facts of the accident.