Sunday, July 14, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Bell 47J-2A Ranger, N8568F; accident occurred July 15, 2018 near Franklin Flying Field Airport (3FK), Johnson County, Indiana

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Plainfield, Indiana

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Franklin, IN
Accident Number: CEN18LA269
Date & Time: 07/15/2018, 1745 EDT
Registration: N8568F
Aircraft: Bell 47J
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 15, 2018, about 1745 eastern daylight time, a Bell 47J helicopter, N8568F, was destroyed during a hard landing and a postimpact fire following a loss of engine power near the Franklin Flying Field Airport (3FK), Franklin, Indiana. The pilot was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to Brown County Tours and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from 3FK about 1730.

The pilot reported that the helicopter had not been flown since 2014 and was being test flown in conjunction with an annual inspection prior to return to service. He stated that the engine lost power about 50 ft above ground level, resulting in a hard landing, and a postimpact fire.

A witness reported that the pilot was checking out the helicopter because it had not been flown yet this season. The initial flight was completed without incident and, after the helicopter was fueled, the pilot took off again. The witness did not see the entire flight, but he could hear the helicopter and the engine sounded "smooth." He observed the helicopter flying over the fields north of the airport and subsequently noticed a "plume of white or grey smoke trailing the helicopter." The helicopter subsequently descended into the field.

The helicopter came to rest upright. The aft portion of the tail boom, including the tail rotor assembly, separated and was located about 30 ft from the main wreckage. The main rotor blades remained attached to the hub and were located with the main wreckage. A postimpact fire consumed most of the fuselage structure. The engine sustained thermal damage consistent with the fire.

A postaccident examination conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. However, the engine examination was limited by the postimpact fire damage.

Although the helicopter had not been flown since 2014, maintenance records revealed that annual inspections were completed during that time with the most recent inspection being completed in April 2017. At the time of the accident, an annual inspection was in progress but had not been completed.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 71, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/01/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/15/2017
Flight Time:   2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 150 hours (Total, this make and model), 2000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N8568F
Model/Series: 47J 2A
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1966
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 3715
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/20/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2850 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 0 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3618 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: VO-540-B1B3
Registered Owner: Brown County Tours
Rated Power: 305 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: BAK, 656 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1745 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 143°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 8000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 12000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point: Franklin, IN (3FK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Franklin, IN (3FK)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1730 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Franklin Flying Field (3FK)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 740 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Vegetation
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 39.426389, -86.058333 (est)

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