Sunday, January 6, 2019

Robinson R44 II, registered to S2 Helicopter Services and operated by an individual, N797JR: Accident occurred January 08, 2018 in Albany, Shackelford County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Albany, TX

Accident Number: CEN18LA069
Date & Time: 01/08/2018, 1345 CST
Registration: N797JR
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 8, 2018, at 1345 central standard time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N797JR, collided with trees and the terrain during an autorotation following a loss of tailrotor effectiveness while in a hover in Albany, Texas. The commercial pilot was not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to S2 Helicopter Services and was operated by an individual as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from a ranch in Albany, Texas, at 1310.

The pilot stated he was using the helicopter to roundup cattle when the accident occurred. He reported he applied power to stabilize in a hover about 50 ft above the ground, when he heard a single loud bang and "felt it in the pedals." The helicopter spun to the right and the pilot applied full left pedal which had no effect. The pilot stated that after about 2 spins, he entered an autorotation to remove torque from the rotor system. The helicopter contacted trees as it descended to the ground. The helicopter came to rest upright with the tail boom separated.

The pilot reported that he was not sure if there was a "mechanical problem" or not. His recommendation was "Conduct a better clearing turn to ensure that nothing was around including animals/birds" and to "maintain more forward airspeed in case of emergency."

The helicopter was sitting upright on the skids. The fuselage was intact and the tailboom was separated just forward of the empennage. Minor crushing damage was visible on the right side of the helicopter aft of the cabin area. Crush damage was visible on the left side of the helicopter above the front and rear skid struts. The main rotor blades, main rotor blade hub, and main rotor mast were intact. One of the main rotor blades exhibited minor bending near the outboard section of the blade. The other blade had a hole in the blade near the tip and the leading edge of the blade at the tip was pulled away from the remainder of the blade.

The empennage and tailrotor were separated from the tailboom. The tailrotor drive shaft separated at the aft flex plate. The drive shaft remained connected to the clutch assembly. The main rotor blades turned when the tailrotor drive shaft was rotated by hand. Ratchet marks were visible inside the tailboom near the aft flex plate. Corresponding damage was visible on the flex plate and drive shaft.

The trailing edge of the lower vertical stabilizer contained impact damage to the rear edge of the surface, pushing the skin forward toward the leading edge. The tail rotor blade assembly remained attached to the tail rotor gearbox. One tail rotor blade was bent outward 90 ° at the blade root. The other blade was bent out about 20° the blade root. The blade was free to turn when rotated by hand. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Instrument Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/18/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/11/2016
Flight Time:  3000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1700 hours (Total, this make and model), 2450 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 120 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 29 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N797JR
Model/Series: R44 II II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 11030
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/03/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2120 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2058 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-540
Rated Power: 0 hp
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: BKD, 1284 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1955 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 90°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  7 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 360°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.17 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / -1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Albany, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Albany, TX
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1310 CST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.730000, -99.309444 (est)

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