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RCP0110_0_Hangar Talk 2/15/10 5:02 PM Page 33
Let’s say you are landing on a steep only one engine; (2) bent fairings or cowl- ample is just such a situation.
down slope and upon touchdown your tail ings; (3) dented skin or small punctures in As of March 8, 2010, the NTSB is
rotor strikes the ground. No one is in- skin; (4) damage to rotor or propeller adding several categories of reportable in-
jured, but the blades must be replaced. caused by ground contact; and (5) damage cidents, and altering a couple of others.
Does this count as a reportable accident to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine The pertinent regulation is 49 C.F.R. §
or incident? accessories, brakes or wingtips. However, 830.5, and it sets out a half dozen types
Prior to March 8, 2010, a close reading even if an irregular occurrence doesn’t of incidents that require reporting by any
of the regulation probably would have led qualify as an accident, it still may be re- aircraft, and another few that relate solely
your lawyer to conclude a report was not portable as an incident. Our tail rotor ex- Continued on page 34
required. Rotor damage caused by ground
contact is specifically excluded from the
definitions that apply to aviation acci-
dents. Prior to a Final Rule recently is-
sued by the National Transportation
Safety Board, it also would not have fallen
under any of the categories of a reportable
incident. After March 8th, however, you
better call the NTSB. The rules have
changed on what qualifies as a reportable
It remains a common misperception,
even among experienced pilots, that the
Federal Aviation Administration investi-
gates aviation accidents and incidents. In
fact, it is the responsibility of the NTSB to
investigate both. It is the responsibility
of the operator of the aircraft to report
both incidents and accidents to the nearest
office of the NTSB.
The new rules do not affect what consti-
tutes a reportable accident. As a quick re-
fresher, an aircraft accident is any
occurrence associated with the operation
of an aircraft that results in death or seri-
ous injury, or substantial damage to the air-
craft, and which occurs between the time
any person boards with the intent to fly and
the time everyone has disembarked. There
are two key terms in this definition (three
really, but “death” is self-explanatory).
The first is “serious injury,” which the
regulations define as (1) hospitalization
for more than 48 hours, beginning within
7 days of the date of the injury; (2) any
bone fracture except for fingers, toes or
nose; (3) severe hemorrhages, nerve, mus-
cle or tendon damage; (4) damage to in-
ternal organs; or (5) second- or
third-degree burns.
The second key term is “substantial
damage” to the aircraft, which includes
anything that “adversely affects the struc-
tural strength, performance, or flight char-
acteristics of the aircraft, and which would
normally require major repair or replace-
ment of the affected component.” 49
C.F.R. § 830.2. This definition specifically
excludes: (1) engine failure or damage of • February 2010 33
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