Thursday, February 06, 2020

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Eurocopter AS-350B Ecureuil, N369BD; accident occurred October 28, 2016 in Starbuck, Columbia County, Washington

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Starbuck, WA
Accident Number: WPR17LA014
Date & Time: 10/28/2016, 1240 PDT
Registration: N369BD
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On October 28, 2016, about 1240 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Eurocopter S.N.I.A.S. AS350B helicopter, N369BD, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Starbuck, Washington. The commercial pilot was not injured. The helicopter was registered to a private individual and operated by Leading Edge Aviation LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from a nearby staging area at 1137.

The pilot reported that during the flight as he was making his 6th pass, on the 5th application load, and traveling upslope from the west to the east, the fuel pressure warning light illuminated. The pilot scanned the instruments and noticed the fuel pressure was low, and the fuel quantity was indicating between 40-50%. About 3-4 seconds later the engine started to lose power. The pilot entered an autorotation and set up for a landing in the flattest area he could find in the canyon. During the approach the pilot extended the landing to make it to a more suitable site. The helicopter subsequently landed hard.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom and to the main rotor assembly. During the recovery it was noted that the helicopter fuel tank was intact, undamaged and void of fuel, but the fuel quantity gauge still indicated 42% fuel remaining, which converts to about 60-gallons.The helicopter was recovered from the accident site for further examination.

Examination of the fuel transmitter revealed that the float guide pin was separated from the float assembly at the tack weld. According to the manufacturer, the separation of the float guide pin would allow the float to slide down the center torque shaft and not allow the potentiometer drive plate at the bottom to rotate with changing fuel quantity. Maintenance records for the overhauled fuel transmitter stated that the float guide was replaced at the time of overhaul on November 23, 2015. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   4529 hours (Total, all aircraft), 862 hours (Total, this make and model), 4441 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 320 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 128 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N369BD
Model/Series: AS350 BA
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1983
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1675
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/27/2016, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 1.6 Hours
Engines:  Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 14004.8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Honeywell
ELT: C126 installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: LTS101700D2
Registered Owner: Jim D. Pope
Rated Power: 732 hp
Operator: Leading Edge Aviation LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KALW, 1205 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 30 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1953 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 193°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 330°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Starbuck, WA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Starbuck, WA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1137
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 681 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

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: 46.588333, -118.123056 (est)

1 comment:

  1. Telling it like it is....
    "See the overhaul paperwork, “Tri‐County Instruments Inc”, says they one of the things that did was they “Replaced the float guide.” Apparently they didn’t do a very good job."


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