Monday, November 01, 2021

Bell 47D1, N132BR: Accident occurred October 31, 2021 near Zelienople Municipal Airport (KPJC), Beaver County, Pennsylvania

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

Location: Zelienople, Pennsylvania
Accident Number: ERA22LA039
Date and Time: October 31, 2021, 16:40 Local
Registration: N132BR
Aircraft: Bell 47D1
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On October 31, 2021, at 1640 eastern daylight time, a Bell 47D1 helicopter, N132BR was substantially damaged when involved in an accident in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot was not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

According to the pilot, an annual inspection was just completed on the helicopter at Zelienople Municipal Airport (PJC), and he met his flight instructor there to continue the training necessary to add a rotorcraft-helicopter rating to his pilot certificate. He serviced the helicopter with approximately 10 gallons of fuel, and they departed on an instructional flight to Butler Air Show Airport (3G9), Butler, Pennsylvania, which was where the helicopter was based. At the completion of the flight, the flight instructor endorsed the pilot’s logbook for solo flight.

The pilot then restarted the helicopter, and flew to PJC, where the flight instructor deplaned while the helicopter’s engine continued to operate. The pilot then departed for 3G9; however, about 3 to 4 miles east of the departure airport, the engine “sputtered” and there was a “drop” in both the engine and main rotor rpm. The pilot performed a 180° turn back toward PJC and when he leveled the helicopter, engine and main rotor rpm “returned.”

The pilot stated that he continued to fly toward PJC for about 2 miles when the helicopter experienced a total loss of engine power. He entered an autorotation and maneuvered the helicopter for a flat open area but lacked the altitude and rotor rpm to reach it. The pilot performed the landing to sloped terrain, which resulted in the destruction of the main rotor blades, and substantial damage to the landing gear and tailboom.

The pilot reported 334 total hours of flight experience, of which 54 hours were in helicopters, and 14 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.

Examination of the helicopter’s maintenance records revealed its most recent annual inspection was completed October 21, 2021, at 3,863.2 total aircraft hours. 

Examination of the helicopter by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors revealed the 28-gallon fuel tank contained approximately 5 gallons of fuel. The accessory drive case at the “bottom” of the vertically mounted engine was found fractured. The tachometer generator, the engine-driven oil pump, and one magneto were all separated from the engine, but remained attached to the helicopter by their associated wires and hoses. Fractured pieces of the accessory case were collected and forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC for examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell 
Registration: N132BR
Model/Series: 47D1
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBVI,1252 ft msl 
Observation Time: 16:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C /7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3700 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 260°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4400 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Zelienople, PA 
Destination: Butler, PA (3G9)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 40.81,-80.15 (est)

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