PHOTOS: NTSB Reports Engines Failed in Medical Transport Helicopter Crash Near I-57 and I-94 Merge, Chicago


On July 7, 2018, about 2123 central daylight time, an Eurocopter Deutschland GMBH EC135 P1 helicopter, impacted terrain during an autorotation following a dual engine failure while maneuvering near Chicago, Illinois. The pilot and paramedic sustained minor injuries, the flight nurse sustained serious injuries, and the patient was not injured during the accident. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tailboom, and main rotor blades. The helicopter was owned by Bennett Aviation, LLC, Elmhurst, Illinois, and operated by Pentastar Aviation Charter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an air ambulance flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the flight was operated under a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight departed St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart, Indiana, at 2110, and was destined for Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Preliminary satellite tracking and air traffic control information revealed the helicopter was traveling northwest from the St. Mary Medical Center on a direct route to Advocate Christ Medical Center about 1,000 ft above ground level. About 5 miles southeast of Advocate Christ Medical Center, the helicopter turned to the right after the pilot requested to return to the Gary, Indiana, airport. About 50 seconds later, the pilot declared a “mayday” and stated the helicopter was going down into a field. The helicopter came to rest upright in a grass area between the Interstate 94 and Interstate 57 interchange.

Surveillance video from a Chicago Transit Authority rail platform located adjacent to the accident site depicted the helicopter during the final phase of the autorotation and impact with terrain. The video showed a fire near the number 2 (right) engine during the autorotation. A explosion was observed after the impact with terrain.

Postaccident examination of the accident site revealed the initial impact was consistent with the fenestron skid cap contacting the terrain first, followed by the landing gear skids and fuselage. The left landing gear skid was separated and came to rest near the ground scar consistent with the fuselage. The fuselage was crushed upward, and the fenestron assembly was separated at the tailboom attachment location (see Figures 1 and 2). The pilot seat, paramedic seat, and flight nurse seat were found fully attenuated. Thermal damage was noted Page 2 of 4 CEN18FA259 This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. on the right engine and main transmission cowling. Both engines power turbine wheel blades were missing the outer halves of the blades. Multiple impact dents, consistent with the fractured turbine blades, were noted inside the exhaust stubs. The No. 1 engine had a 1/2″ by 1/2″ hole in the exhaust stub at the 2 o’clock position forward of the aft firewall, and the No. 2 engine had a 2″ by 1″ hole in the exhaust stub at the 11 o’clock position forward of the aft firewall.

The helicopter was equipped with an Outerlink IRIS video, voice, flight data, and satellite communications system. The IRIS equipment was removed and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder laboratory for video, voice, and data extraction.

Chicago Medical Helicopter Crash: Superior Helicopter Crash FrontChicago Medical Helicopter Crash: Superior Helicopter Crash Front.

Chicago Medical Helicopter Crash: Superior Helicopter Crash TailChicago Medical Helicopter Crash: Superior Helicopter Crash Tail.

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Chicago police and firefighter/paramedics responded about 9:28 PM Saturday July 7, 2018 to a report of a helicopter down near 103rd St and Michigan Avenue. The crash was actually 3000 feet north-northwest of intersection in grass near the I-57 and I-94 merge. A Superior Air-Med helicopter was apparently in an auto-rotation crash before a hard-landing.

Immediately, four injured or sick people were discovered by first responders outside the helicopter, including the patient — all Code Red. Later it was learned that the original patient was not injured by the crash.

According to a flight tracking estimate from flightradar24, the Eurocopter EC135 P1 helicopter was heading about 300° (toward Oak Lawn), and made a hard right turn at 1300 feet, traveling at about 119 knots (137 MPH) at 9:22 p.m. The helicopter stopped transmitting flight data by 9:23 p.m. The helicopter initially presented a flight path about 9:09 p.m. from the area of Hobart, Indiana. The helicopter appeared to have lifted off at St. Mary medical Center near 61st Avenue and Lake Park Avenue, and was reported to be enroute to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Superior Air Ambulance Crash Audio – ATC and Police Audio (Aggregated by Eric Tendian)

Chicago police helicopter PH-1 investigated the reported helicopter crash about 7 miles southwest of Midway International Airport about 9:22 p.m. — just before fire crews start communicating on radio as they searched for the crash scene. The Superior Air Medical transport helicopter pilot had reported the helicopter was going down in a field.

Witnesses on the ground later reported the helicopter was spinning in the air, and on fire before it hit the ground.

CPD PH-1 reported they discovered the helicopter with an apparent hard landing and fire. PH-1 immediately left the area. Chicago Fire Department helicopter 6-8-2 arrived and reported they were circling the scene shortly after PH-1 left the scene.

Chicago Fire Department 93’s crew on arrival to dispatched location reported they didn’t see anything at 103rd St and Michigan Avenue.

Fire units started to become aware that the crash was near the I-57 and I-94 merge and saw smoke in the air about 9:32 p.m.

Chicago Fire Department Truck 24’s crew, first CFD unit on the scene, reported their crew is on scene with police and additional fire crews can enter at 99th St and Halsted St 9:35 p.m.

Ambulance 29’s crew requested and EMS Plan 1 by 9:35 p.m.

CFD Battalion Chief 22 confirmed the location is on the I-57 feeder ramp to the southbound Bishop Ford.

CFD Truck 24 reported they have a helicopter crash with no civilians on board the helicopter with patients being triaged in a grassy area near the crash scene by 9:36 p.m. The expressway shut down at 9:37 p.m.

CFD Battalion Chief 22 reported they have four patients that require treatment by 9:39 p.m.

The air ambulance Tail Number identification was requested, and fire personnel reported the tail number N312SA.

The fire was extinguished, and all four patients, including the original patient, were all accounted for by 9:48 p.m.

A total of four victims were being transported from the scene by 9:54 p.m. …

Ambulance 24’s crew was transported 30 yr-old female Code Red to Level I Trauma Center Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Ambulance 60’s crew transported a 70 yr-old female Code Red to Level I Trauma Center Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Ambulance 5’s crew transported a 30 yr-old female Code Red to Level I Trauma Center University of Chicago.

Ambulance 9’s crew transported a 46 yr-old male Code Red to Level I Trauma Center University of Chicago.

CFD Engine 75, Engine 93, Engine 62 and Truck 24 stayed on scene — all others returning by 9:54 p.m.

July 8, 2018 1:35 a.m.

SAT MAY 31 2008 — Superior Air-Ground Ambulance AIRMED 1 Eurocopter Deutschland GMBH EC135P1 takeoff at Chicago Bears Minicamp — NOT THE AIRCRAFT THAT CRASHED. Superior Air-Ground Ambulance provided at the time the official paramedics and official medical transportation ambulances for Soldier Field in Chicago. A paramedic/nurse, flight nurse and pilot, which constitute the flight crew from Superior Air-Ground Ambulance AIRMED 1 program, presented a demonstration landing and takeoff near the Walter Payton Center (indoor training facility) at Chicago Bears Campus/Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois.


ENGINE(S): E93  E75  E62

TRUCK(S): T ??  T24  TL ??  

SQD5  CV275  SQD7 (returned) CV273 (returned)

RIT: BC23 T ??  

CHIEF(S): BC22   225 2-1-12 2-1-27

EMS: A ??  FC ??  STANDBY A ??  

STAGING: 99th and Halsted at the top of the ramp.

EMS PLAN 1 at 9:35 p.m. on orders of A29



LIVE TRAFFIC MAP of neighborhood where a helicopter crashed in a grassy area near the I-57 and I-94 merge …

More Cardinal news Saturday July 7, 2018 …

More Cardinal news Sunday July 8, 2018 …



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