The sole Enstrom TH-180 development aircraft N180TH [pictured] had an accident on Friday, coming down in a residential area close to Marinette Twin County Airport in Menominee, Michigan where the manufacturer is based. The helicopter hit a power pole and some tree branches on 14th Avenue and crashed right-side up at 18th Street and 15th Avenue. It remained upright, with the skids performing as designed and taking the impact well, and the base of the cabin area ended up touching the tarmac.
The location is right on the runway centreline and about 600m short of the piano keys on Runway 32, which we believe was in use with the north westerly winds on Friday of 9mph, gusting 21mph (according to Weather Underground). Menominee was its typical temperature at this time of year, with the day’s high temperature of 16F (-9C) and the low as 0F (-18C)
For the best photos of the accident location situation, see this article on WeAreGreenBay.com
Enstrom released this statement about the incident Friday afternoon:
Enstrom’s experimental helicopter model, the TH-180, experienced an emergency hard-landing in Menominee shortly before Noon on Friday, February 12. There were no injuries or casualties and the pilot walked away from the helicopter. Enstrom personnel were on-site shortly after the incident to assist with the clearing of the helicopter to begin an investigation of the incident.
The TH-180 first flew on 6th February 2015 after being announced at Heli-Expo 2014. TH180 is powered by a 210hp Lycoming HIO-390 engine and is targeted at the training market as a low-cost option – and was developed from the F28F and is expected to have 30-35% parts commonality with other Enstrom models. Gross weight will be around 1,000kg, and target price was given by Enstrom a year ago as “under $400,000”.
It is not clear at this stage how much the certification schedule will be impacted. Enstrom had originally shot for gaining the FAA’s approval in the second quarter of 2015 but that had slipped to 2016 without specifying a month or even a quarter. A second prototype is being worked on already, but the manufacturer will want to do significant analysis of Friday’s accident first to ensure that any modifications are included before it takes to the air.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com