Monday, June 20, 2022

Robinson R44, N132TC: Accident occurred May 26, 2022 in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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. 


Location: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Accident Number: ERA22LA256
Date and Time: May 26, 2022, 13:40 Local 
Registration: N132TC
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On May 26, 2022, about 1340 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N132TC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The flight instructor and the student pilot were not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

According to the instructor, the student pilot performed a visual approach, which he terminated at a hover. The student landed the helicopter and then performed a takeoff to a hover. Seconds later, the helicopter began to “aggressively shudder.” Loud, rapid reports were heard, and the nose of the helicopter yawed to the left. The instructor assumed control of the helicopter, closed the throttle, and performed an autorotation from a hover, landing the helicopter upright on its skids, which resulted in substantial damage to the airframe.

The instructor completed an engine shutdown, egressed the helicopter, and noticed that the main rotor was still turning while the tail rotor remained stationary. A cursory examination of the helicopter revealed no visible exterior damage and “bits” of engine / transmission drive belts on the runway surface. A post-accident examination revealed that the clutch shaft yoke fractured at one of its two bolt lugs where the yoke attached to the flex plate. The photographs lacked the resolution to examine the fracture surfaces. All other damage depicted appeared to be impact damage from the rotating assemblies left unsecured by the fractured lug. The fractured and separated lug piece from the yoke was recovered and retained for further examination along with the components of the flex plate and yoke assemblies.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N132TC
Model/Series: R44 
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: KCRE,29 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C /20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.17 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Southport, NC (SUT)
Destination: North Myrtle Beach, SC

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 33.808099,-78.728463


  1. I am just glad this one doesn't appear to be another premature Lycoming Engine failure. There have been many R44 with engines failing with 100 hours or less. It was so bad the Austrlia'a AHIA released "Durability Issues Lycoming engines fitted to Robinson Helicopters". I personally know several operators including some in Texas that have experienced this firsthand. I am not sure how the FAA has not acted on this yet.

    1. The AHIA study indicated thermal management as the root problem, which was more pronounced in higher operating temp locations.

      Sounds like anyone still having engine durability trouble in higher temps isn't following the 2019 instructions to cool down after landing that Robinson put out in response in to those findings.

      FAA can't make operators follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding cool down if the pilot's won't do what's recommended.

    2. And what if they were following the recommendation regarding the cool down?? Then what’s you expert opinion?

    3. Original poster knows what he is talking about. Even if you cool down there are some serious quality control issues with Lycoming Engines the past few years. Then to top it off, the waiting list for you to repair their junk is very long and no discount.

    4. The low time problem was figured out in 2020:

      The burned intake valve issue was associated with specific serial numbers. Lyc put out Service Instruction No. 1577 on it.

    5. I think "the low time problem was figured out in 2020" just maybe reinforced what was being proffered. So you are telling me they built a bunch of serial number engines and they were failing due to valve issues up to the year 2020 (of course someone that owns one now needs to order new parts at retail which are on backorder). They "figured it out". It would seem to someone with reasonable thinking that there is a problem because they have been making engines a long time. I wonder what problems they don't have figured out yet? Maybe we can say the pilot needs to cool down longer, or maybe this time they are cooling down too long? Maybe we will see another service instruction coming soon...after more deaths????

    6. If you had one of the serial# engines covered by Service Instruction No. 1577, seems like following the instructions it provides to do compression testing per 1191, submit the data online at the link provided and contact tech support would be the thing to do. Did you have an engine in that serial# range that tech support said wasn't covered after following instructions, or just speaking about it all third hand?

    7. Actually...both! We have owned and operated many for over 20 years and have seen the quality deteriorate significantly over the past 3-5 years. Contacting tech support, while they are nice people, does nothing. Can you imagine spending that amount of money for something that should be safe, operate and function normally but doesn't? Then you can contact tech support and they just regurgitate the instructions? What does that yield to you? You still have junk. Then you need to order replacement parts to repair it and you don't get any discount and your aircraft is down. To top it off, there is a long wait list. I have seen it firsthand and also thirdhand. Now, how about you? You work for Robinson or Lycoming or just drink coolaid and don't have any experience with multiple Robinson's?

    8. Operators have a valid gripe if they had one of the serial# engines covered by 1157 and no remedy was offered. Of course, an actual operator wouldn't include the koolaid reference during a discussion, that's a troll tell. What were your engine serial numbers?

  2. Wow they were VERY lucky that tail rotor didn't fail when they were at altitude. Just three months ago there was a horrible R44 fatal crash with an instructor and student posted here where there is video shows an apparent boom strike and complete tail severing. Robinsons for the most part have a a good safety record as sight seeing rotorcraft. However, the jury is still out if these are actually safe helos to train in if the student gets overaggressive on controls, specifically around the collective/pitch maneuvers.

  3. The series of crashes of R44's with tail boom sliced seem to be due to some Swiss dude posting a video of a new technique to exit a stall and several CFI's curiosity about trying it including the fatal flight mentioned above, as seems to be the case. It is like the ill fated attempts to exit Vmc rolls in twins during MEL training that was done for a while some decades ago which resulted in the FAA asking everyone to stop going into actual Vmc rolls for MEL training. As the cure of training for it was worst than the disease of actually experiencing one in real flying.

  4. Tail rotor drive shaft coupling failed and the nose yawed left?