NTSB Identification: ERA16LA301
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 26, 2016 in Iron Station, NC
Aircraft: MEANS ROBER C ROTORWAY EXEC, registration: N48KM
Injuries: 1 Minor.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On August 26, 2016, about 1450 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Rotorway Exec helicopter, N48KM, was substantially damaged following a loss of control while in hovering flight at Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport (IPJ), Iron Station, North Carolina. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local maintenance test flight which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to confirm the dynamic track and balance condition of the main rotor system following the replacement of elastomeric bearings in the main rotor hub. Four ground and hover tests had been performed previous to the accident flight.
In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector, the pilot said that while at a hover, the helicopter pitched up, to the left, and began transitioning rearward. He corrected with a full, right-forward cyclic input, yet the helicopter continued to transition to its rear until it struck a hangar. The helicopter continued inside the open hangar, collided with an airplane, and came to rest on its left side. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the cockpit, fuselage, and tailboom.
Prior to the flights, the helicopter was configured with a ballast weight located on the right skid as prescribed in the pilot operating handbook (POH) for solo operation. Following the accident, the forward section of the right main landing gear tube, with counterweight ballast attached, was found between the positions of the helicopter where it hovered for the test, and where it came to rest.
Examination of the helicopter by FAA inspectors confirmed cyclic and collective control continuity. Additionally, the pilot reported that the helicopter had operated "flawlessly" up until the time of the accident.
The helicopter's most recent condition inspection was completed on July 22, 2016, at 254 total aircraft hours.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on March 14, 2016. He reported 600 total hours of flight experience, of which 500 were in the accident helicopter make and model.
Weather reported at the time of the accident included winds from 080 degrees at 4 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 34 degrees C, dew point 17 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.11 inches of mercury.