Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Robinson R44, N828RD, KHGK LLC: Accident occurred July 24, 2017 in Myrtle Beach, Horry County, South Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbia, South Carolina

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

KHGK LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N828RD

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA257
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 24, 2017 in Myrtle Beach, SC
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N828RD
Injuries: 3 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 July 24, 2017, about 1316 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44, N828RD, registered to KHGK LLC, operated by Helicopter Solutions, Inc., dba Helicopter Adventures, was substantially damaged during an autorotative landing near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The commercial pilot and 2 passengers were not injured. The helicopter was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a commercial air tour flight, on a company visual flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the local flight, which originated about 1310 from the operator's facility.

According to GPS data provided by the operator, after takeoff the pilot proceeded along the Boardwalk Adventure route. About 3 minutes after takeoff, while flying in a southwesterly direction over the Atlantic Ocean just south of 21st Avenue N, the altitude and groundspeed decreased. The pilot stated that when approaching the SkyWheel, the helicopter began shaking, "like a minor kick," which he initially thought was a stuck valve. The GPS data indicated the flight continued in a southwesterly direction parallel to the coast while descending with decreasing groundspeed. When near the SkyWheel, the pilot reported he made a radio call to advise company personnel that a mechanic would be needed to meet the flight.

The flight proceeded to return, and the pilot stated that he maintained 70 knots and 25 inches manifold pressure, but the helicopter was descending about 300 feet-per-minute. When near the departure helipad location, he noticed the alternator light was on, and he started increasing the collective pitch to arrest the descent, but the low rotor rpm horn came on and the engine rpm spiked. Realizing he was unable to reach the intended helipad, he turned the helicopter with the slope of an adjacent field, and pulled full collective to cushion the landing. After touchdown he secured the helicopter, and informed the passengers of the loss of engine power.

Postaccident inspection of the helicopter revealed damage to the skin of the tailboom, and a fractured pushrod of the No. 5 cylinder exhaust valve. The engine was retained for disassembly inspection.

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