NTSB Identification: WPR17LA143
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 06, 2017 in Ronan, MT
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N442DR
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On July 6, 2017, about 1645 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R-44, N442DR, was substantially damaged during an emergency landing in Ronan, Montana. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger received minor injuries. The helicopter was owned and operated by a private individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight departed Ronan Airport (7S0), Ronan, Montana about 1600.
The pilot reported that he departed on a tour of the town with a family member. About 45 minutes into the flight at an approximate altitude of 350 feet above ground level, the pilot suddenly experienced a loss of tail rotor authority. The helicopter started spinning slowly at approximately one revolution every five seconds and the use of the anti-torque pedals did not stop the rotations. The pilot lowered the collective control and made small adjustments with both the collective and cyclic as the helicopter descended towards the ground. He subsequently lowered the collective from an approximate altitude of about five feet above the ground to descend the helicopter rapidly. The helicopter then impacted the ground hard, which resulted in substantial damage to the tail rotor. According to his recount, the pilot did not observe any aural or visual warning indications nor did he experience any vibrations. The engine continued to run normally after the helicopter came to rest.
Postaccident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed multiple dents and protrusions throughout the tailboom that appear to have originated from within the tail section.
The wreckage was retained for further examination.