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R44 fatal accident - tail boom failure?

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R44 fatal accident - tail boom failure?

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Old 13th May 2006, 10:08
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R44 fatal accident - tail boom failure?

Rather strange and tragic report on the NTSB site, abbreviated here:

"On May 1, 2006, about 1430 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R44 Raven II, Canadian registration C-FICL, impacted desert terrain near Desert Center, California. The Canadian certificated commercial pilot and the passenger were fatally injured; the helicopter was destroyed. The cross-country ferry flight departed Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), Torrance, California, at 1305

The accident pilot had taken delivery of the new helicopter from the Robinson Helicopter Company factory in Torrance on the day of the accident. The pilot and passenger, who were employed by Zimmer Air Service, Inc., departed from Torrance with an intended final destination of Blenheim, Ontario, Canada.

Two ground witnesses saw the helicopter just before it impacted the ground. They observed that the tail boom had separated from the fuselage.

The helicopter was a Robinson R44 Raven II, and had a total airframe time of 4.0 hours when it left the factory the day of the accident. The tachometer read 5.2 hours at the accident scene.

The on-scene examination revealed that the helicopter and separated components came to rest about 200 yards south of interstate 10. The accident site was 16 nm east of Desert Center, and 18 nm west of Blythe.

The tail boom was located 100 feet west of the main wreckage. The tail boom had separated just aft of the main fuselage attach point. The tail rotor blades and tail rotor transmission were attached to the tail boom with minor impact damage."

Where the tail boom separated doesn't sound quite like a failure following mast bumping/MR blade hitting tail boom scenario, but it is hard to think of any other cause. Any views/knowledge?
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Old 13th May 2006, 10:18
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One would assume that it would be Mast bumping/MR connection with tail boom. .but you would also state a commercial pilot knows of these dangers, unless inflicted by other means. . . or maybe it's as simple as a maintenance fault from the factory...and the tail boom just held in for the 4 hours..then seperated..who knows... condolences to the families. sad.
I'm interested to know the investigation result or other ppruners comments ?
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Old 13th May 2006, 11:44
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Wonder wh they were down that way if they were going Canada as its the complete opposite direction.?
I flew from Blythe to Palm Spings at this time last year and I can remember it being extremly windy and very bummpy around that area, getting much worse as you approached Palm Springs and Banning pass. We had to lay-over for 2 days before we could get through the Banning pass due to the strong/turbulence. I wonder if they got into Turbulence and the Low G environment. Going to be interesting to see the weather reports and PIREP's for the day. Not many people fly around there unless quite high (Fixed wingers).
Thoughts to families.

Flash
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Old 13th May 2006, 12:23
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"An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for BLH was issued at 1453. It stated: winds from 170 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 miles; skies clear; temperature 38 degrees Celsius"

Not particularly windy. Where do tail booms tend to fail after R44 mast bumping? "Just aft of the main fuselage attach point" or further back?
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Old 13th May 2006, 17:52
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You'd expect the sever point to be much further back in the case of a boom chop from mast bumping. I don't see how the main rotor blade could flex far enough to sever the boom so far forward.

Besides, the report said "separated" rather than "severed", and there would have been clear impact damage from the main rotor, with corresponding damage on the rotor blade.

Very sad accident either way
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Old 14th May 2006, 10:43
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Once the blades have seperated from the mast they are free to go anywhere. My only direct experience of mast bumping was observation of a Huey that sufferred same and tail boom was chopped off about six inches aft of the tail boom attatchment - and as if it had been a hot knife through butter it was such a clean "cut". And with 17 on board at 1000 - 1500 feet. Result of a zoom climb I might add.
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Old 10th Aug 2006, 14:40
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Has there been any further news on this accident? has the Report come out?

Do any of you know any more about this accident? The thread went quiet soon after, has there been any further investigation or results?
Flash
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Old 10th Aug 2006, 22:29
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I tried a few days ago to find out more but could find nothing . For a student or low hours pilot it makes you think hard . For two experienced pilots in a brand new ship and this accident occurs
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Old 10th Aug 2006, 23:53
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I've been watching for the NTSB to update this accident report. I ferried an R44 from Robinson two weeks after this one and was informed that Robinson had added an additional requirement to their ferry flight rules. They now require that the flight controls be removed from the passenger side if that person is not rated. They may have reason to believe that the non-rated passenger was flying the aircraft at the time of the accident.

Other thoughts:

The preliminary report says that approx 1.2 hours had elapsed between departing KTOA and the accident site 16nm east of Desert Center, 18 nm west of Blythe KBLH, that's a distance of 165 nm.
Hobbs said 5.2 hours, and the ship left Robinson with 4.0. Blythe Metar said the winds were from the south at 8 knots (no tail wind to speak of at the time) with an OAT of 38 C. In the absence of a good tail wind, these guys were traveling at quite an average indicated airspeed, 165/1.2 = 137.5 knots. Published VNE is 123kts @ 40 C correcting for temperature.

I believe that the route though this area is the one Robinson prefers due to lack of high mountains, the destination was eastern Canada if I'm not mistaken.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 06:21
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Originally Posted by Flashover999
Do any of you know any more about this accident? The thread went quiet soon after, has there been any further investigation or results?
Flash
I have heard (and take it for what it's worth) that POSSIBLY one of the pilots (not sure which one was actually flying the ship) possibly had a faint/stroke/heart attack and this caused him to slump forward against the cyclic, resulting in an obvious low-g pushover scenario from which the other pilot simply couldn't recover in time before the rotor chopped off the tail boom.
Again, it's pure speculation at this point but I have heard this from numerous sources here in the U.S.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 11:57
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. . . added an additional requirement to their ferry flight rules. They now require that the flight controls be removed from the passenger side if that person is not rated.
This has always been a requirement, hasn't it ???
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 12:20
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Sorry to hijack for a moment...
And with 17 on board at 1000 - 1500 feet
Thats one heavy and very crowded Huey Brian A. We talking 214?
Must have been a difficult sight to see the loss of so many. Where was it?
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 14:02
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Originally Posted by MLH
... Robinson had added an additional requirement to their ferry flight rules. They now require that the flight controls be removed from the passenger side if that person is not rated.
Here is a video and the corresponding CAA Incident Report clearly showing why the dual controls should always be removed if an unrated passenger is to occupy the front seat next to the pilot of the helicopter (and this would apply not only to Robinson R22 or R44 Helicopters, but any other make and model of helicopter too).
Luckily, in this case, the aborted landing remained an incident and didn't turn into an accident. Nevertheless, it remains a very hair-raising video to watch.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 14:13
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sorry to be a typical ppruner - but it says his right knee pushed the centre column...

even removing the dual controls would not have prevented this?
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 14:45
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Originally Posted by rotorspin
sorry to be a typical ppruner - but it says his right knee pushed the centre column...

even removing the dual controls would not have prevented this?
True. Maybe a short passenger briefing before the flight could have helped prevent what we saw in the video. Who knows?
All I know is, I always do a quick passenger briefing with all my passengers, once the dual controls have been removed. Sure, it isn't a 100% guarantee either, but if the passengers at least are aware of where the crucial controls are and what they should try not to bump into, well then maybe it might just help prevent something like what we saw in the video from re-occurring.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 14:46
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A/S seems a tad high, I wouldn't discount the turbulence in an area that it's suggested is known for it, with the newbie owner flying along - encounters some clear air tubulence - dust devil or whatever, they can go higher than 6000 and be violent up there in the desert here in oz- he panics - mate wakes up just a bit too late - ?????
certainly IF they encountered such scenario at a high power setting it would not help.

BA, I got to hear about your story from a friend, now deceased, who happened to be flying a mirage on finals when the good old aussies - after some head scratching and some time later - sent up a second machine to test fly the same scenario.

The test pilot was a friend of my mate, result was - ahem! well - predictable in hindsight - maybe foresight too - not the best thing that my mate reckoned he had seen.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 15:24
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Typical flight plan

Originally Posted by Flashover999
Wonder wh they were down that way if they were going Canada as its the complete opposite direction.?
I flew from Blythe to Palm Spings at this time last year and I can remember it being extremly windy and very bummpy around that area, getting much worse as you approached Palm Springs and Banning pass. We had to lay-over for 2 days before we could get through the Banning pass due to the strong/turbulence. I wonder if they got into Turbulence and the Low G environment. Going to be interesting to see the weather reports and PIREP's for the day. Not many people fly around there unless quite high (Fixed wingers).
Thoughts to families.

Flash
Typically for Northeast destinations in Canada, Robinson will assign you a flight plan taking you south of the Rockies and then northeast to your destination.

In Frank Robinson's "Requirements for Pilots Ferrying Helicopters from RHC Factory" letter, it is stated "RHC reserves the right to delay the departure due to weather and to specify the flight route in the event the intended route submitted by the PIC is deemed to be unsafe by RHC."

If you look at the destination in the report, Blenheim, Ontario Canada, the closest airport is Leamington, Ontario (CLM2).

A direct course from Torrance to Leamington would take you straight through the Rockies. I am pretty confident Robinson probably instructed them to fly Easterly past Blythe, through the southwest, and then probably northeast after crossing through Texas.
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Old 11th Aug 2006, 16:56
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Big Bucks Bernie, That video reminds me of an accident involving an R44 and a tow platform connected to a lawn tractor. The pilot touched down with the skids off the rear, bumped the stinger and over corrected pushing forward cyclic, the MR blades cut through the "A" frame hitch. No injuries, not even to the person seated on the tractor at the time.
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Old 15th Aug 2006, 23:43
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Lightbulb Helicopter Crash In Desert May 1 2006

I HAVE DETAILS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT, BUT I WANT TO KNOW HOW MANY HOURS RHC HAS TO TEST FLY THEIR SHIP BEFORE THEY GIVE IT TO THEIR CUSTOMER. I HEARD IT WAS UP TO 20 HOURS BUT INITIALLY 5HRS, BUT THIS HELICOPTER ONLY HAD 4 HRS ON IT BEFORE IT LEFT TORRENCE, CA. PUTTING THAT INTO CONSIDERATION WITH WARMUP TIME THE SHIP WAS NOT EVEN IN THE AIR AN HOUR. IF THEY HAD DONE 1 MORE HOUR OF TESTING THE MACHINE WOULD HAVE BLOWN UP AT THE FACTORY NOT AT IN THE AIR KILLING 2 GOOD MEN.
THE NTSB HAS CLOSED THE CASE BUT THE FAA HAS REOPENED IT, SITING DIFFERENCES. THE CYCLIC CONTROL WAS NOT TOUCHED BY THE PASSENGER.
THE SHIP WAS STOPPED IN AIR AND FELL OUT OF THE SKY THE TAILBOOM WAS SEPARATED BY THE FORCE OF THE BLADES COMING AROUND AND ENTERING THE COCKPIT. DEADSTOP.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED?
ROBINSON ALSO PUT UP AN SERVICE BULLETIN ON HIS WEBSITE ASKING TO INSPECT YOUR BLADES EVERY 100 HOURS. DATED JUNE 6,2006 HUH
THE MEN FLYING TO CANADA PASSED THE AUTOSPY REPORT NO HEALTH PROBLEMS. THE PILOT ALSO HAD OVER 7500 HRS EXPERIENCE IN HELICOPTERS. AND HAD BEEN FLYING ALL HIS LIFE.
YOU TELL ME WHAT WENT WRONG!!!!!
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Old 16th Aug 2006, 07:57
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Originally Posted by FLYINHY
I HAVE DETAILS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT, BUT I WANT TO KNOW HOW MANY HOURS RHC HAS TO TEST FLY THEIR SHIP BEFORE THEY GIVE IT TO THEIR CUSTOMER. I HEARD IT WAS UP TO 20 HOURS BUT INITIALLY 5HRS, BUT THIS HELICOPTER ONLY HAD 4 HRS ON IT BEFORE IT LEFT TORRENCE, CA. PUTTING THAT INTO CONSIDERATION WITH WARMUP TIME THE SHIP WAS NOT EVEN IN THE AIR AN HOUR. IF THEY HAD DONE 1 MORE HOUR OF TESTING THE MACHINE WOULD HAVE BLOWN UP AT THE FACTORY NOT AT IN THE AIR KILLING 2 GOOD MEN.
THE NTSB HAS CLOSED THE CASE BUT THE FAA HAS REOPENED IT, SITING DIFFERENCES. THE CYCLIC CONTROL WAS NOT TOUCHED BY THE PASSENGER.
THE SHIP WAS STOPPED IN AIR AND FELL OUT OF THE SKY THE TAILBOOM WAS SEPARATED BY THE FORCE OF THE BLADES COMING AROUND AND ENTERING THE COCKPIT. DEADSTOP.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED?
ROBINSON ALSO PUT UP AN SERVICE BULLETIN ON HIS WEBSITE ASKING TO INSPECT YOUR BLADES EVERY 100 HOURS. DATED JUNE 6,2006 HUH
THE MEN FLYING TO CANADA PASSED THE AUTOSPY REPORT NO HEALTH PROBLEMS. THE PILOT ALSO HAD OVER 7500 HRS EXPERIENCE IN HELICOPTERS. AND HAD BEEN FLYING ALL HIS LIFE.
YOU TELL ME WHAT WENT WRONG!!!!!
At the risk of continuing a sham, who told you that the NTSB "closed the case"??????? That is absurd and a lie. The investigation has barely "opened" and no data or results have been announced yet. Stop telling or repeating falsehoods. The NTSB has not closed the case. It takes sometimes a year or more for the NTSB to end their investigation and report their final verdicts.
I'd say you're a Robbie hater and nothing more.
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