Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Eurocopter AS-350B Ecureuil, N369BD: Accident occurred October 28, 2016 in Starbuck, Columbia County, Washington


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Spokane FSDO-13

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA014
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Friday, October 28, 2016 in Starbuck, WA
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS350, registration: N369BD
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 October 28, 2016, about 1240 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Eurocopter S.N.I.A.S. AS350B, N369BD, during an agricultural application flight the helicopter lost engine power and during the autorotation landed hard near Starbuck, Washington. The helicopter was registered to a private individual and operated by Leading Edge Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137. The commercial pilot was not injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The agricultural application flight departed at 1137 from a location near the accident site. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that during the agricultural application flight as he was making his 6th pass, on the 5th application load, and traveling upslope from the west to the east, the fuel pressure warning light illuminated. The pilot scanned the instruments and noticed the fuel pressure was low, and the fuel quantity was indicating between 40-50%. About 3-4 seconds later the engine started to lose power. The pilot entered an autorotation and set up for a landing in the flattest area he could find in the canyon. During the approach the pilot extended the landing to make it to a more suitable site, which resulted in the loss of rotor RPM, and a subsequent hard landing.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom and to the main rotor assembly.

During the recovery it was noted that the helicopter fuel tank was intact, undamaged and void of fuel, but the fuel quantity gauge still indicated 42% fuel remaining, which converts to 60-gallons.

The helicopter was recovered from the accident site for further examination.

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