On February 14, 2018, about 1336 eastern standard time, a Robinson Helicopters, Inc., R22 Beta, N337H, landed hard in dense vegetation about 5 miles southeast of Charleston International Airport, South Carolina. The flight instructor and student were not injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter and was being operated by Holy City Helicopters, Charleston, South Carolina, as a visual flight rules (VFR) local instructional flight, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and flight following was not in effect.
The flight instructor reported that he had conducted training in the area previously and was familiar with the area, terrain and obstacles. The training was conducted to practice hovering and then transition to forward flight. The student was on the controls during the hover and the transition to forward flight.
The instructor further reported that as the helicopter transitioned through effective translational lift, it climbed above the 15-ft tree line and encountered what he described as a small, white, quadcopter that was at eye level and converging head-on. The instructor took the flight controls and made a hard-right turn and applied aft cyclic input. He then leveled the helicopter, but it began to descend. The helicopter landed hard, and the tailboom separated from the fuselage. The instructor rolled the throttle off, but the helicopter spun to the right and rolled onto its right side. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail rotor drive shaft.
The investigation is continuing.