STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT: http://registry.faa.gov/N206LW
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA408
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2016 in Modesto, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2016
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON 206, registration: N206LW
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The helicopter pilot reported that after a lengthy search and rescue mission he was headed back to the airport when the low fuel light illuminated, which meant there was about 10 minutes of fuel remaining. The pilot further reported that during the approach to land he made a right turn to final and the engine "flamed out". Subsequently, the pilot performed an emergency autorotation which resulted in abnormal ground contact and main rotor contact with the tail boom.
After the landing, the passenger examined the helicopter and revealed that the tail boom sustained substantial damage.
The pilot reported that prior to the loss of engine power, there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
The loss of engine power reported by the pilot was likely the result of fuel starvation during the right turn to final. The pilot reported that the fuel level was not checked after the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain pitch control during an autorotation, which resulted in abnormal ground contact and main rotor contact with the tail boom. Contributing to the accident was the low fuel level which resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power during the right turn to final.