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NTSB Preliminary Report: Tampa, FL



Tampa, FL

Accident Number:


Date & Time:

04/04/20191416 EDT






1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 2 None

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On April 4, 2019, about 1416 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44, N4046J, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a roadway near Tampa, Florida. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The passenger in a vehicle was fatally injured and the driver incurred minor injuries from flying debris. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the positioning flight, which was destined for Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Sarasota, Florida. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the owner of the helicopter, he was flying on March 31, 2019 from Naples Municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida, to Cross-City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida. He stated that he had flown for about one hour at an altitude of 1,000 ft when the helicopter's engine completely lost power. He located a field to land in and performed an autorotation to the ground. The helicopter was not damaged during the landing. He further stated that he restarted the engine and it ran at idle for several minutes before he pulled on the collective and the engine lost power again. He restarted the engine for a second time and kept the main rotor disengaged while he ran the engine up to 100% power without a load; the engine ran well. Then he engaged the main rotor, and when he started to pull on the collective, the engine lost power again. He shut the engine down, contacted the helicopter manufacturer, and asked them to repair the helicopter. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector contacted the pilot on the morning of April 4 to tell him the helicopter was being worked on by two mechanics from Florida Suncoast Helicopters.

According to the FAA inspector, he traveled to the field where the helicopter had landed on the morning of April 4. There he observed Florida Suncoast Helicopters mechanics as they performed maintenance on the helicopter. The mechanics told the inspector that they had cleaned the fuel screen and looked for contamination. Then, a company pilot employed by Suncoast Helicopters started the engine and let it warm up. He pulled on the collective and the engine lost total power. After further discussion with the helicopter manufacturer, the mechanics decided to replace the fuel servo unit with a new one. The FAA inspector then departed, and asked the mechanics to call after the repairs were complete, and to tell him what was repaired.

According to the mechanics and pilot employed by Suncoast Helicopters, after the fuel servo unit was changed, the pilot test ran the engine and hovered the helicopter for several minutes. No problems were noted. The pilot and one of the mechanics boarded the helicopter and departed the field at 1401, with the intent of moving the helicopter to SRQ. At 1416, the engine lost total power and the pilot performed an autorotation to a roadway.

After touchdown on the roadway, the helicopter slid on the pavement due to its forward momentum. The helicopter slid sideways, and the main rotor blades contacted a telephone pole. An approximately 2 ½-foot-long piece of the main rotor blade fractured off and flew into a truck driving down the street. The blade went through the windshield and fatally injured the passenger of the truck, while the driver sustained minor injuries.

The helicopter came to rest on South 50th Street about 100 ft from the intersection of Palm River Rd. The helicopter was oriented on a heading of 180°. The helicopter was next to a telephone pole and the main rotor cut the telephone pole in half. Both main rotor blades were fractured at the tips and had telephone cable cuts down the blades. The skids on the helicopter were damaged consistent with a hard landing, and the skids' main brace was fractured. The tail cone was buckled on the top located at the second bay. One pitch link for the rotor blade was fractured off. The vertical firewall was wrinkled at the lower right corner.

Examination of the engine revealed that the induction air inlet duct was partially collapsed. The inner rubberized fabric liner of the duct had partially delaminated and separated from the outer rubberized fabric, obstructing the interior volume of the duct. The wire stiffener between the two layers of fabric was displaced in two locations near the center of the duct length, at the 90° bend. No other discrepancies of the airframe or engine were noted.

The duct was retained for further examination.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. He held an FAA-issued second-class medical certificate, dated March 20, 2019. According to the pilot's logbook, he had a total of 657.9 hours of flight experience.

The four-seat helicopter was manufactured in 2019. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5, 260-horsepower engine. At the time of the accident, the airframe and engine total time was 81.34 hours.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:





R44 II No Series

Aircraft Category:


Amateur Built:





BC Dental INC

Operating Certificate(s) Held:



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:


Observation Facility, Elevation:

KTPF, 8 ft msl

Observation Time:

1815 UTC

Distance from Accident Site:

3 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:

29°C / 18°C

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 4500 ft agl

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

7 knots / 80°

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 9500 ft agl


10 Miles

Altimeter Setting:

30.22 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed:


Departure Point:

Tampa, FL


Sarasota, FL (SRQ)


Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 None

Aircraft Damage:


Passenger Injuries:

1 None

Aircraft Fire:


Ground Injuries:

1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Aircraft Explosion:


Total Injuries:

1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 2 None

Latitude, Longitude:

27.943333, -82.401944 (est)


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Daniel P Boggs

Additional Participating Persons:

Mark Keefer; FAA; Tampa, FL

Mike Childers; Lycoming Engines; Atlanta, GA

Ken Martin; Robinson Helicopters; Los Angeles, CA


The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.

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