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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 139915
Last updated: 14 November 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic UH1 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell UH-1H (Williams mod.)
Owner/operator:Airwest Helicopters
Registration: N502AW
C/n / msn: 69-15340
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:About three miles west the Valle Airport - K40G, Grand Canyon, AZ -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Grand Canyon, AZ (40G)
Destination airport:Supai, AZ
Investigating agency: NTSB
According to the pilot, the helicopter was about 500 ft above ground level (agl) when he saw the master caution warning light illuminate; he then saw that the low transmission oil pressure light was also illuminated. He immediately maneuvered away from power lines and set up an approach to land. While descending, the helicopter yawed left and right, and, about 10 ft agl with the airspeed almost at 0, the main rotor speed slowed and then stopped, and the helicopter subsequently fell to the ground. The pilot reported that the engine continued to operate for about 15 seconds after impact.
An on-scene examination revealed that both main rotor blades remained intact with no leading edge damage. Examination of the helicopter revealed a band of discoloration around the circumference of the transmission case near the main rotor reduction gear assembly; localized paint peeling was also noted. There were no oil stains or residue on the transmission case.
During the subsequent transmission disassembly, the mast was found coated in metal debris along its length, and the mast bearing was found coated in oil. Molten metal pieces were found in the upper planetary gears, ring gear, and sun gear, consistent with insufficient lubrication. The lower planetary gears sustained significant damage from the molten metal pieces. There was no damage to the transmission oil pump, oil was present in the oil pump cavity, and some debris and scoring were evident on the housing.
Examination of the passages within the transmission oil manifold revealed medium-to-high density particles in several of the passages, but none of the passages were blocked; particles were also found in the chip detector. The particles were identified as being generally composed of metals commonly used in gears, housings, and bushings. The damage to the transmission indicated that it likely seized as a result of an overtemperature condition due to a lack of lubrication. Due to the severity of the damage, the reason for the lack of lubrication could not be determined.

Probable Cause: The loss of main rotor power due to a main rotor transmission failure from a lack of lubrication.


FAA register:

Revision history:

16-Nov-2011 05:44 gerard57 Added
16-Nov-2011 06:33 RobertMB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Nov-2011 03:25 Geno Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Nov-2011 14:21 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:26 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
27-Nov-2017 17:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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