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Editor’s Note: Although an accident is painful for all involved, a cursory review of what accidents have occurred are both reflective and instructive. Accident reports give us unique insights into specific flights and situations that may make each of us reflect on our own operations or current flying environment. I encourage pilots, mechanics, crewmembers, and deci- sion makers to make it a habit to study the industry’s recent accident history. If they trigger a higher awareness that saves even one life or one airframe, it will have been worth the read.

Ackerman, Mississippi, at 2054, with the intended destination of Jackson, Mississippi.

According to the pilot, about ten min- utes after departure, a low engine oil pres- sure indicator warning light illuminated. He noted that there was no rise in the oil temperature indication or engine temper- ature indication and continued toward the intended destination while attempting to verify the loss of engine oil pressure. Several minutes later the pilot noticed a low torque reading and again noted that there was no rise in the oil temperature or engine temperature. About 25 minutes after departure, the pilot saw a rise in the engine temperature gauge and lowered the collective. He then observed the engine temperature rising at a higher rate and located an open field in order to per- form an off-airport landing. The engine lost total power prior to reaching the open field, and the pilot performed an autorota- tion. After impacting the ground, the pilot performed the emergency shutdown pro- cedures.

The helicopter came to rest in an open field that was surrounded by trees. It remained in an upright position and the landing gear crosstubes were bowed. The tailboom separated from the helicopter and came to rest just aft of the fuselage. The main rotor blades remained intact and attached to the rotorhead. The engine was retained for further examination at a later date. In addition, memory cards and a hard drive from a data recorder were shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Division Laboratory for download.


On September 21, 2013, about 1150 mountain standard time, a Bell UH-1V helicopter, N22490, was destroyed when it impacted the ground near Cordes Lakes, Arizona, following the in-flight sep- aration of the main rotor blade assembly. The owner/pilot and the non-pilot rated

48 August 2013

passenger were fatally injured. The per- sonal flight was conducted under the pro- visions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorologi- cal conditions prevailed, and no FAA flight plan was filed for the flight.

The helicopter was based at Scottsdale airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona, and reportedly departed SDL the morning of the accident. According to wit- nesses, the helicopter landed at Sedona airport (SEZ), Sedona, Arizona, that morning, where a fly-in and aircraft exhibi- tion event was being held. The helicopter did not take on fuel at SEZ. On departure from SEZ, the helicopter first air-taxied northbound (which was approximately downwind) along the runway, about 100 feet above ground level. It was then observed to make a course reversal near the end of the runway, and fly along the runway before departing the area. Eyewitnesses located about five miles north-northeast of Cordes Lakes observed the helicopter "explode," and first telephoned 911 at 1150 to report the accident.

The helicopter debris trail measured approximately 1,700 feet long, and was oriented along a magnetic track of about 160 degrees. The bulk of the helicopter, including the cockpit/cabin, engine, trans- mission, tail boom and tail rotor assembly, was located in or near an impact crater at the southern end of the debris trail. The debris trail included the cockpit wind- shields and doors, cabin sidewall, and cabin interior items. The main rotor assembly, which included the two blades and the hub, was located about 600 feet east of the debris trail. No evidence of any pre-impact failures of the engine, reduc- tion gearbox, transmission, or tail rotor drive assemblies was observed. No evi- dence of fire or a high-order explosion was observed on any components found in the debris trail, and the only evidence of fire was observed in and around the main impact crater. The debris field was mapped, and the wreckage was subse-

quently recovered to a secure facility for detailed examination. A partial radar track associated with the helicopter indicated that the first target was acquired at 1138, at an indicated alti- tude of 6,600 feet. That target was located about 12 miles from SEZ, on a magnetic bearing of 197 degrees. The last radar target associated with the helicopter was recorded at 1150, at an indicated altitude of 5,800 feet. That final target was approximately coincident with the wreck- age location.

The pilot held a private pilot certifi- cate with airplane single- and multi- engine land ratings, and was issued a rotorcraft helicopter rating in May 2013. On his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate, the pilot reported that he had 1,856 total hours of flight experi- ence. His helicopter flight training and flight examination were conducted in a Hughes 269 helicopter. The helicopter flight examiner stated that the pilot had purchased the UH-1 prior to his comple- tion of his helicopter rating. The examiner estimated that the pilot had less than 100 hours of helicopter flight experience at the time of the accident. FAA information indicated that the helicopter was manufactured in 1974, and was equipped with a Lycoming/Honeywell T-53 series turboshaft engine. The SEZ 1135 automated weather observation included winds from 230 degrees at 5 knots, gusting to 17 knots; visibility 10 miles, with clear skies. The 1100 winds aloft for about 6,000 feet in the general vicinity of the accident location

were from 170 degrees at 13 knots. ◆

Fly Safe! Be Safe!

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