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NTSB Final Report: Spartanburg, SC

 

 

Location:

Spartanburg, SC

Accident Number:

ERA17LA256

Date & Time:

07/18/20172030 EDT

Registration:

N211CJ

Aircraft:

D & K AVIATION BABY BELLE

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Loss of control in flight

Injuries:

1 Minor

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


Analysis
The private pilot of the experimental, amateur-built helicopter reported that he returned to the airfield after a local flight and was preparing to land. While flying about 4 ft above ground level at an indicated airspeed between 16 and 24 mph, he felt a shudder, and the helicopter yawed to the right. He straightened the helicopter with antitorque pedal inputs and did not recall hearing any engine noise, although the doors were removed. The next thing that he recalled was lying on the ground, with the helicopter leaking fuel. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the helicopter's main rotor blades were bent and the tailboom was severed. Postaccident examination of the helicopter, which included an engine run, did not reveal any evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Although the pilot reported 46 total hours of helicopter flight experience, all in the make and model of the accident helicopter, he did not possess a rotorcraft rating at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain helicopter control during the approach to landing.

Findings

Aircraft

Prop/rotor parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Qualification/certification - Pilot

Factual Information
On July 18, 2017, at 2030 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Baby Belle helicopter, N211CJ, was substantially damaged during a hard landing near Spartanburg, South Carolina. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to a private company and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 91 as a local, personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport (SPA), Spartanburg, South Carolina at 2000.

According to the pilot, he was returning from a local flight around the airfield and was preparing to land. While flying about 4 ft above ground level at an indicated airspeed between 16 to 24 mph, he felt a shudder and the helicopter yawed to the right. He added left antitorque pedal input and overcorrected, then adjusted with right antitorque pedal input, which confirmed he had tail rotor authority. He reported that when the helicopter straightened out, he did not recall hearing any engine noise, although he had the doors off. The next thing he recalled was that he was on the ground and the helicopter was leaking fuel. He also reported he did not hear any horns or audible annunciations.

The pilot recovered the wreckage to a storage facility and reported the event to the National Transportation Safety Board on July 24. Initial examination of the wreckage revealed that the airframe sustained substantial damaged during the accident. The main rotor blades were bent and delaminated and the tailboom was severed.

Subsequent examination of the wreckage revealed control continuity from the cyclic and collective controls in the cockpit to the main rotor area. All fractures in the collective and cyclic control linkages were consistent with overload. Continuity was also established from the antitorque pedals to the tail cone. The tail rotor drive shaft was severed in multiple places. All fractures on the tail rotor drive shaft exhibited overload signatures and the bearings moved freely. The 90º gearbox rotated freely without binding.

An initial examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft would not rotate. Further examination revealed oil in two of the cylinders resulting in a hydraulic lock condition. After the oil was drained, the engine could be turned freely. A test run of the engine was subsequently performed. The engine started normally using the cockpit controls and ran without evidence of a malfunction or anomaly.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot did not possess a rotorcraft-helicopter rating at the time of the accident. The pilot reported 46 hours of rotorcraft flight experience, all in the make and model of the accident helicopter.


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Ralph E Hicks

Adopted Date:

04/08/2019

Additional Participating Persons:

Marshall Bogan; FAA/FSDO; Columbia, SC

Publish Date:

04/08/2019

Note:

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

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=95654

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Hard landing

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Private

Age:

53, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

04/09/2015

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

04/06/2016

Flight Time:

760 hours (Total, all aircraft), 46 hours (Total, this make and model), 760 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 56 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 25 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

D & K AVIATION

Registration:

N211CJ

Model/Series:

BABY BELLE NO SERIES

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2000

Amateur Built:

Yes

Airworthiness Certificate:

Experimental

Serial Number:

DK1-1

Landing Gear Type:

Skid

Seats:

2

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

11/29/2016, Condition

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

1750 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

45 Hours

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

325 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Lycoming

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

O-360-C2C

Registered Owner:

D-B-G AVIATION INC

Rated Power:

150

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:

SPA, 801 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

 

Observation Time:

0035 UTC

Direction from Accident Site:

 

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

Calm /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None

Wind Direction:

 

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.07 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

27°C / 21°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Spartanburg, SC (SPA)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Spartanburg, SC (SPA)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

2000 EDT

Type of Airspace:

Class G

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Spartanburg Downtown Memorial (SPA)

Runway Surface Type:

Grass/turf

Airport Elevation:

801 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

Dry

Runway Used:

N/A

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

 

VFR Approach/Landing:

Full Stop

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Minor

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Minor

Latitude, Longitude:

34.915833, -81.956389 (est)

 






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