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NTSB Final Report Released: Harrisville, NY

Location:

Harrisville, NY

Accident Number:

ERA18TA076

Date & Time:

01/28/20181530 EST

Registration:

N4045

Aircraft:

VERTICAL AVIATION TECHNOLOGIES 260L HUMMINGBIRD

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Fuel starvation

Injuries:

1 None

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


Analysis

The commercial pilot was conducting a cross-country flight in an experimental amateur-built helicopter that was equipped with an automobile engine. When the airplane was about 6 miles from the destination and at a cruise altitude of 500 ft above ground level, the engine sputtered once and then lost all power. The pilot performed an autorotation into a low-lying valley with short trees. During the landing, the main and tail rotors contacted the trees, resulting in substantial damage.

Postaccident testing revealed that one of the two electric fuel pumps did not operate when direct current was applied to it, indicating that the pump had failed during flight. According to the manufacturer, both fuel pumps are to be used for takeoff and landing, but only one fuel pump is necessary during cruise flight. The pilot was using one fuel pump during cruise flight, and the fuel pump that failed was likely the one in use at the time. The fuel pump failure resulted in fuel starvation and a subsequent total loss of engine power.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
 

The failure of an electric fuel pump, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power during cruise flight.

Findings

Aircraft

Fuel pumps - Failure (Cause)


Factual Information

On January 28, 2018, about 1530 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Vertical Aviation Technologies 260L Hummingbird helicopter, N4045, operated by the commercial pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, following a total loss of engine power during cruise flight near Harrisville, New York. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from Potsdam Municipal Airport (PTD), Potsdam, New York, about 1500. The flight was destined to the pilot's private residence in Harrisville, New York.

The pilot reported that helicopter was 6 miles from the destination at 500 feet above ground level, when the engine sputtered once and then lost all power. The pilot performed an autorotation into a low-lying valley with short trees. During the landing, the main rotor and tailrotor contacted trees, resulting in substantial damage. The landing gear also sustained damage.

The helicopter was assembled in 2010 and equipped with a Chevrolet LS3 engine. At the time of the accident, the airframe and engine had accumulated 456.8 total hours of operation. The helicopter's most recent annual inspection was completed October 29, 2017. The helicopter had flown 5.3 hours from the time of that inspection, until the accident.

Examination of the wreckage and testing of an electric fuel pump (one of two Airtex External Electric Fuel Pump, model No. E8445) by the pilot revealed that one of the two electric fuel pumps did not operate when direct current was applied to it. The pilot added that the operating manual stated that both fuel pumps should be on for takeoff and landing; however, only one fuel pump is required for cruise flight. The pilot added that it would have been safer to have both fuel pumps on at all times.


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Robert J Gretz

Adopted Date:

02/05/2019

Additional Participating Persons:

Anthony Luttrell; FAA/FSDO; Albany, NY

Publish Date:

02/05/2019

Note:

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=96676

 


History of Flight

Enroute-cruise

Sys/Comp malf/fail (non-power)

Fuel starvation (Defining event)

Loss of engine power (total)

Autorotation

Off-field or emergency landing

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

46, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

Lap Only

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

08/31/2017

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

1946 hours (Total, all aircraft), 78 hours (Total, this make and model), 1176 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

VERTICAL AVIATION TECHNOLOGIES

Registration:

N4045

Model/Series:

260L HUMMINGBIRD NO SERIES

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2010

Amateur Built:

Yes

Airworthiness Certificate:

Experimental

Serial Number:

1079

Landing Gear Type:

Tricycle

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

10/29/2017, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2700 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

5 Hours

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

457 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Chevrolet

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

LS3

Registered Owner:

On file

Rated Power:

290 hp

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

GTB, 690 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

25 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1556 EDT

Direction from Accident Site:

235°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

 

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 3900 ft agl

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

6 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None / None

Wind Direction:

290°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A / N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.25 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

3°C / -2°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Potsdam, NY (PTD)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Harrisville, NY (NONE)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1500 EST

Type of Airspace:

 

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 None

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 None

Latitude, Longitude:

44.297778, -75.246944 (est)

 





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