Saturday, January 15, 2022

Bell UH-1E Iroquois, N333XL: Accident occurred January 23, 2022 in Gustine, Merced County, California

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; Fresno, California

David Lee Aircraft Sales And Leasing LLC


Location: Gustine, California
Accident Number: WPR22LA084
Date and Time: January 23, 2022, 10:30 Local 
Registration: N333XL
Aircraft: Bell UH-1E Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On January 23, 2022, about 1030 Pacific standard time, a Bell UH-1E, N333XL, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Gustine, California. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

The pilot reported that he was applying herbicide to a wheat field and the accident occurred on the third load of the day. He reported that at the apex of an agricultural turn, he lost control of the helicopter and it descended and struck terrain. The pilot turned off the fuel boost, the master electrical switch and exited the helicopter through the roof window.

The helicopter came to rest on its left side in an open, level, field. All major components remained in the debris area around the airframe. The tail boom had partially separated from the fuselage. One main rotor blade separated from the hub about 24 inches outboard of the blade grip. The other main rotor blade remained attached and exhibited upward bending about 24 inches from the blade grip. The tail rotor assembly and the 90°gearbox remained attached to the top of the vertical stabilizer. The 90°gearbox exhibited a large crack at the top of the housing that exposed the internal gear assembly. The green paint around the cracked area was thermally damaged, and there was no evidence of residual oil around the cracked surface of the gearbox.

The helicopter was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell 
Registration: N333XL
Model/Series: UH-1E 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

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Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 37.102274,-120.97578