Sunday, April 28, 2019

Robinson R44 Raven II, revenue sightseeing flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N899GB: Accident occurred April 20, 2017 in Orlando, Orange County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Orlando, FL
Accident Number: ERA17LA163
Date & Time: 04/20/2017, 1030 EDT
Registration: N899GB
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Executive/Corporate - Sightseeing 

On April 20, 2017, about 1030 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 II, N899GB, was substantially damaged during an autorotative landing near Orlando, Florida. The commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated about 5 minutes earlier from Air Orlando Heliport (2FD7), Orlando, Florida. The revenue sightseeing flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

During the 1st flight of the day while returning to 2FD7, the pilot stated that he was flying southbound and descending out of 1,000 feet, when at 600 feet, he heard and felt a loud "pop" that was accompanied by a yaw to the right, shaking and vibration, with engine roughness. At that time the rotor tachometer had, "dropped to zero", while the engine tachometer was "at about 60-70%." He immediately entered an autorotative descent to a median between two roads, but did not recall his airspeed during the maneuver, and landed, "…a little hard…." After touchdown the helicopter began to roll forward, which he attempted to correct with aft cyclic input. Once the helicopter was stable on the ground, he secured the engine, and then evacuated the passengers after the main rotor had stopped.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed the aft section of the tailboom was partially detached from the helicopter, and the leading edge of the main rotor blades exhibited slight damage. In the area of the tailboom separation point, the tail rotor drive shaft was fractured and the tail rotor push-pull tube assembly was deformed. Further examination of the tailboom revealed the arm associated with the damper assembly was bent about 90° and fractured. The damper remained connected to the support which was torn and deformed. No deformation was noted internally to structural members adjacent to the damper area. No other damage to the tail rotor drive system was noted. Examination of the engine compartment revealed one magnet assembly part number (P/N) B570-1 associated with the main rotor tachometer indicating system was separated from the Yoke Assembly, P/N C908-1, and was not recovered. The other magnet assembly remained secured to the yoke assembly. The yoke assembly was not damaged, but there was evidence of slight damage to 1 sender assembly, consistent with the magnet assembly separation. The lowest numeric marking on the dual tachometer associated with the main rotor is 50, with 2 graduated lines beneath.

The engine was removed from the helicopter and taken to a repair facility where it was examined and then placed on a test stand and operated twice. The first and second engine runs lasted 15 and 25 minutes, respectively with no discrepancies noted. The engine was operated a third time, and about 10 minutes into the engine run, the left magneto failed the magneto check. The defective magneto was removed, and a replacement magneto was installed. The engine was started and operated normally.

Robinson Helicopter Company personnel reported there have been instances of a magnet separating from a magnet assembly which prompted issuance of Service Bulletin (SB) 86; however, they report there have not been any previous instances of the magnet assembly separating from the yoke assembly.

According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook, a caution in the emergency procedures section related to power failure specifies to not apply aft cyclic during touchdown or ground slide to prevent possible blade strike to the tailcone.

According to the maintenance manual, the sensor for the main rotor tachometer is an electronic Hall Effect device which senses passage of two magnets attached to main rotor gearbox input yoke assembly. Robinson personnel reported that with only 1 magnet installed, the main rotor tachometer rpm would indicate about 50% of the actual rotor rpm.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/04/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/30/2016
Flight Time:  1315 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1093 hours (Total, this make and model), 1243 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 202 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 109 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Registration: N899GB
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 11190
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/17/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 40 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1142.9 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-AE1A5
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: Air Florida Helicopter Charters, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MCO, 96 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1053 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 50°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3700 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 30000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 17 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 100°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Altimeter Setting: 30.17 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Orlando, FL (2DF7)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Orlando, FL (2DF7)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1025 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  28.450000, -81.470556 (est)

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