Video: Helicopter Tears Itself Apart

AS350 AStar self destructs.

Remember the old joke about helicopters being a loose collection of parts flying in formation? Well here’s an example of a helicopter on the ground whose loose collection of parts suddenly decided to become a lot looser.

The self-imposed destruction of this Helibras-built AS350 AStar happened in Brazil on Feb. 23. Ground resonance is thought to be the culprit based on what’s shown in the dramatic video. This dangerous condition can occur at certain rotor rpms while a helicopter is sitting on the ground with its blades turning, and has been compared to what happens to a washing machine with an unbalanced load -- although the consequences, as seen in the video, can often be far more severe.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the incident. Now it will be up to investigators to try to determine exactly why it happened. Helibras is a Brazil-based helicopter manufacturer that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurocopter.