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Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter Engine Failure Crash

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Published on Dec 4, 2007

Turn up the volume. Very chilling sound of turbine engine failure. Crashed on 12/1/01 in Bryne UT. Tail Number N911KH.

Accident report details:
The helicopter was fueled to capacity the evening before, and the engine compartment was preheated before departure. Preflight inspection revealed no frost on the airframe or rotor blades. The particle separator was clean and dry. Engine start and takeoff were normal. After crossing a highway 1/2 mile south from the heliport, at an airspeed "in excess of 50 mph [and] at an altitude of approximately 50-70 feet," the engine "flamed out." There was a noticeable yaw and the pilot heard "the sound of the engine shutting off." He autorotated towards a highway right-of-way. The helicopter struck the ground hard and slid 20 to 30 feet. "Mast bumping" broke the rotor head off. It struck the rear of the helicopter, severing the tail section. The helicopter spun around and rolled over on its right side. Postaccident examination disclosed no fuel remaining because the rear skid leg had punctured the fuel tank. The pilot and his two passengers had been drenched with fuel when they evacuated the helicopter. All fuel lines and fuel filter were intact, free of debris, and contained fuel. The turbine and compressor turned freely by hand. The pilot said he noted dirt on the inside of the cap "consistent with the dirt at the crash site." Later, he wrote that "the dirt on the inside of the fuel cap was orange, the same color as at the heliport. The dirt at the crash site is more brown native soil." He noted vehicle tracks in the snow behind the helipad. Footprints led from the tire tracks to a small dirt pile and back to the helipad. Suspecting the helicopter may have been sabotaged, the pilot contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office in St. George, Utah. He said that in the 6 years the company has been doing business in the Bryce Canyon area, he had been slandered, vandalized, and threatened with death. According to the FBI special agent, his agency would not become involved unless there was "conclusive evidence" that a crime had been committed.
NTSB Probable Cause Narrative
loss of engine power for reasons undetermined. Contributing factors were the low airspeed and altitude at which to perform an autorotation.

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