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Narrative:On May 10, 2012, about 10:15 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, N7523S, performed an auto-rotation following a loss of engine power near Grants, New Mexico. The certificated flight instructor (CFI) and commercial pilot were not injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was owned and operated by iPrerogative Inc, Washington, Utah, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight.
Robinson R44 Raven II
|C/n / msn:|| 10276|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2|
|Airplane damage:|| Substantial|
|Location:||Near Mount Taylor, north of Grants, New Mexico -
United States of America
|Phase:|| En route|
|Departure airport:||Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ/KABQ)|
|Destination airport:||Page Municipal Airport (PGA/KPGA)|
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The helicopter departed the Albuquerque International Airport (KABQ), Albuquerque, New Mexico, about 0900, and was destined for the Page Municipal Airport (KPGA), Page, Arizona.
According to a statement provided by the CFI, while cruising over mountainous terrain, at 10,000 feet mean sea level (msl), the CFI slowed the helicopter to 70 knots and initiated a practice auto-rotation, in order to maintain auto-rotation proficiency. The pilot reported checking 80 percent engine rpm at least twice during the practice auto-rotation. About 9,200 feet amsl (and about 600 feet above local ground level), the CFI attempted to restore engine power but the engine had quit producing power which was verified by the engine tachometer.
The pilot continued the auto-rotation and lined up with the best available landing area and landed. On touchdown, the helicopterís main rotor blade contacted the tail boom severing the tail boom. Substantial damage was sustained to the main rotor blades, tail boom, and tail rotor blades.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The loss of engine power due to an excessively rich fuel mixture that occurred during operations at idle power settings at a high density altitude. Contributing to the accident was the flight instructorís poor decision-making in choosing to practice an unnecessary auto-rotation over mountainous terrain.
1. NTSB Identification: CEN12LA289 at http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20120511X40109&ntsbno=CEN12LA289&akey=1
2. FAA: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?omni=Home-N-Number&nNumberTxt=7523S
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||Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]|
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