Saturday, July 21, 2018

Robinson R44 II, N442DR: Accident occurred July 06, 2017 in Ronan, Lake County, Montana

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location:  Ronan, MT
Accident Number: WPR17LA143
Date & Time: 07/06/2017, 1645 MDT
Registration: N442DR
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On July 6, 2017, about 1645 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R-44, N442DR, was substantially damaged during an emergency landing in Ronan, Montana. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger received minor injuries. The helicopter was owned and operated by a private individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight departed Ronan Airport (7S0), Ronan, Montana about 1600.

The pilot reported that he departed on a tour of the town with a family member. About 45 minutes into the flight at an approximate altitude of 350 feet above ground level, the pilot suddenly experienced a loss of tail rotor authority. The helicopter started spinning slowly at approximately one revolution every five seconds and the use of the anti-torque pedals did not stop the rotations. The pilot lowered the collective control and made small adjustments with both the collective and cyclic as the helicopter descended towards the ground. He subsequently lowered the collective from an approximate altitude of about five feet above the ground to descend the helicopter rapidly. The helicopter then impacted the ground hard, which resulted in substantial damage to the tail rotor. According to his recount, the pilot did not observe any aural or visual warning indications nor did he experience any vibrations. The engine continued to run normally after the helicopter came to rest.

Postaccident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed multiple dents and protrusions throughout the tailboom that appear to have originated from within the tail section.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N442DR
Model/Series: R44 II II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MSO, 3206 ft msl
Observation Time: 1653 MDT
Distance from Accident Site:  33 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.16 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ronan, MT (7S0)
Destination: Ronan, MT (7S0)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 47.476389, -114.055278 (est)

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