Two Bell 407 medivac helicopters - midair Flagstaff AZ . . .

Two Bell 407’s collide mid-air, at least 7 fatalities.

BBC News

That’s terrible. It’s a weird situation, as low as they fly, if you’re above em at all, they’re terribly hard to see. Just yesterday I was headed back home, into an non-towered airport. A Medivac (unsure of type or company) was inbound for the same small town, (the hospital is probably about 1.5-2 nm S of the airport.
I called 12 miles SE of the field at 2500 about 2 min later he called 10 mi to the east at 2000. I and my passenger looked and could not spot him, I immediately called him and advs “nojoy on the helo” and he advised he had me and we kept in contact calling our position. I never did see him, even though we past over the top of him. We had good communication though, he was great about advising where he was and that he had us in sight and I advised we were going to stay high until we got close and I would descend during my downwind (by this point we were w/i 2 nm of the field), and would extend it until I got to pattern altitude. As we crossed over and all the way until I knew our paths had crossed I never saw him. Unorthodox, but I didn’t see him, and surely didn’t feel like descending on him.

With objects on the ground, if you’re above em at all, they definitely blend in communication with each other, or air traffic if applicable is essential!

Phoenix 12 News Story has a little more info.
I wonder if either of them were in contact with KFLG tower…
Anyone know if the destination hospital is within KFLG’s airspace?

June 30, 2008 ************************************************************

The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a Go Team to investigate yesterday’s mid-air collision of two emergency medical service (EMS) helicopters in Flagstaff, Arizona.

At about 3:48 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on June 29, two Bell 407 EMS helicopters (N407GA operated by Air Methods, and N407MJ operated by Classic Helicopters) collided less than a mile from the Flagstaff Medical Center while both approached the hospital for landing.

There are reports of 6 fatalities. NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Aaron Sauer has been designated as Investigator-in-Charge and will lead a team of four investigators. NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker is accompanying the team and will serve as principal spokesman for the on-scene investigation. Keith Holloway has accompanied the team as press officer, and three representatives of the Board’s Transportation Disaster Assistance office are also accompanying the team.

N407GA Bell 407 operated by Air Methods

N407MJ Bell 407 operated by Classic Helicopters

Peace to my fallen aerial angels :frowning:

Flight Paramedic

Sad. :cry:

AP story says one was coming from Grand Canyon, the other from Winslow.

AP story via msn

Since those places are nearly total opposite directions from Flagstaff, they probably didn’t collide while on the same heading (eg. one descends on top of the other). Unless there is some arrival procedure set up for the hospital, which I’m guessing is rare. I live in an area with multiple hospitals equipped with helipads, and I rarely see the same exact approach twice.
Since they were coming from different directions, yet collided maybe a mile from the destination, what kind of weird flight path was someone taking? I’m having trouble with that one.

The crash occurred over Spitzer Mesa which is just to the ESE of Flagstaff Medical Center. The helipad (capable of accomodating two ships) for the hospital is on the SE corner building of the center’s complex. The hospital is approached from a north, east, south, direction over the uninhabited mesa. It appears that the Classic ship was approaching from the south with its patient from Winslow after dropping off one of the flight nurses at FLG due to density altitude considerations.

The authorities also said shortly before the collision, one of the two helicopters had just dropped off a flight nurse at the Flagstaff airport because of concerns about weight and the craft’s ability to gain lift. It was flying north to drop off a patient at Flagstaff Medical Center when it collided with another hospital-bound medical transport copter going south, officials said.

The AirMethods ship was approaching from the north with its patient from the Canyon. The accident happened as both ships were over the mesa manuevering for approach to the helipad.

As the investigation continues, and questions remain,

Images captured from a hospital parking lot surveillance camera might help explain how two medical helicopters en route to the hospital collided in midair Sunday, killing six of the seven aboard, authorities said.

Two Ships on the Flagstaff Medical Center helipad. N407GA being one of them involved in the accident.

This is a tragedy, but it begs the question, isn’t is common for these folks to communicate with surrounding aircraft? At least to announce their presence and intentions?

EMTSpud, comments?

Local news reporting on this story said that hospital surveillance cameras caught footage of the crash. Anyone have a link…?

There is a medevac operation that operates out of KOKV, and I’ve heard them announcing their location in reference to the Winchester hospital on the airport CTAF.

I am not qualified to answer that- for two reasons. One, I am not a pilot. Two, I work on board fix-wings (Lear 35’s and 36XR’s). I have done several training fights on our local helicopter, and the pilots did seem to be in constant communications with Tower, ATC and area traffic.

I don’t know those who perished in this recent tragedy. It is just that we in emergency services share a brother/sisterhood kinship.


National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594



The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the probable cause of a midair collision between two emergency medical service (EMS) helicopters last year was that both pilots failed to see and avoid the other helicopter on approach to the helipad. Contributing to the accident were the failure of one of the pilots to follow arrival and noise abatement guidelines and the failure of the other pilot to follow communications guidelines.

On June 29, 2008, about 3:47 pm MST, two Bell 407 EMS helicopters, operated by Air Methods Corporation, and by Classic Helicopter Services, collided in midair while approaching the Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) helipad in Flagstaff, Arizona. All 7 persons aboard the two helicopters were killed and both helicopters were destroyed.

“This accident highlights the importance of adhering to the regulations and guidelines that are in place,” said Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. “Had these pilots been more attentive and aware of their surroundings, and if communications would have been enhanced, this accident could have been prevented.”

In its report today, the Board noted that both EMS helicopters were on approach to the Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) helipad to drop off patients. During the flights, both pilots had established two-way communications with their communications centers and provided position reports. The FMC communications center coordinator advised the Air Methods pilot that there would be another helicopter dropping off a patient at FMC. The FMC coordinator also advised Classic communication center that Air Methods would be landing at FMC, but the Classic communication center did not inform the Classic pilot nor was it required to do so.

However, the Board stated that if Classic’s pilot had contacted the FMC communications center, as required, the FMC transportation coordinator likely would have told him directly that another aircraft was expected at the helipad. If the pilot had known to expect another aircraft in the area, he would have been more likely to look for the other aircraft, the report stated.

As documented in the report, Air Methods did not follow the noise abatement guidelines, to approach the helipad from a more easterly direction. Classic approached the helipad from the northeast, and it is likely that the pilot would have been visually scanning the typical flight path that other aircraft approaching the medical center would have used. Thus, if the Air Methods helicopter had approached from a more typical direction, the pilot of the Classic helicopter may have been more likely to see and avoid it.

Neither helicopter was equipped with a traffic collision avoidance system, nor was such a system required. Had such a system been on board, the Board noted, it likely would have alerted the pilots to the traffic conflict so they could take evasive action before the collision. However, according to Federal regulations, ultimately the pilots are responsible for maintaining vigilance and to be on alert and avoid other aircraft at all times.

The Board’s report, including the probable cause, is available on the NTSB’s website at

Media Contact: Keith Holloway, 202-314-6100