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NTSB Final Report: Wichita Falls, Texas

Location:

Wichita Falls, Texas

Accident Number:

WPR19LA019

Date & Time:

November 2, 2018, 11:30 Local

Registration:

N1159W

Aircraft:

Bell 47G

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Defining Event:

Loss of engine power (total)

Injuries:

1 Serious, 1 Minor

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

Analysis

The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to practice emergency procedures with a certified flight instructor (CFI). After completing four uneventful autorotations, they climbed the helicopter to an altitude of about 1,500 mean sea level and turned onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern to conduct a ‘hydraulics off’ approach. Once established on final approach, the CFI reached down to turn off the hydraulic switch, and the engine lost complete power. The pilot immediately gave the flight controls to the CFI, and he prepared for an autorotation in a nearby field. During the descent, the helicopter impacted powerlines before it landed hard. The main rotor blade severed the tailboom, and the helicopter spun before it came to rest on its side.

The CFI confirmed that when he reached down to turn off the hydraulic switch, the engine lost complete power. He mentioned that the hydraulic switch is on the lower console, and he was unaware of any nearby switches that would have turned off the engine.

During a postaccident examination no anomalies were noted with the engine that would have precluded normal operations. The instrument panel was removed; the electrical wires were examined, and no abnormalities were noted. At the accident site, the ignition switch was found in the BOTH position. The ignition switch positions (RIGHT, LEFT, and BOTH) were tested and functioned normally. However, when the key was in the LEFT or RIGHT position, movement of the key would temporarily ground the switch. It was noted that a long keychain attached to the key extended over the hydraulics switch when the key was in the ignition.

It is possible that the CFI moved the keychain away from the hydraulic switch and, in doing so, could have caused the ignition switch to temporarily ground. Subsequently, the engine would lose complete power with no warning. However, this scenario would require the ignition switch to be either in the LEFT or RIGHT position because moving the ignition key while in the BOTH position did not cause the switch to temporarily ground. Since there is no evidence of the switch being in a position other than BOTH, the investigation was unable to determine the reason for the total loss of engine power.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

Findings

Not determined: (general) - Unknown/Not determined

Aircraft:  Not specified

Factual Information

On November 2, 2018, about 1130 central daylight time, a Bell 47G-3B-1, N1159W, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Wichita Falls, Texas. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the certified flight instructor sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to practice emergency procedures with a certified flight instructor (CFI). After completing four uneventful autorotations, they climbed the helicopter to an altitude of about 1,500 mean sea level and turned onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern to conduct a ‘hydraulics off’ approach. Once established on final approach, the CFI reached down to turn off the hydraulic switch and the engine lost complete power. The pilot immediately gave the flight controls to the CFI, and he prepared for an autorotation in a nearby field. During the descent, the helicopter impacted powerlines before it landed hard. The main rotor blade severed the tailboom, and the helicopter spun before it came to rest on its side.

The CFI confirmed that when he reached down to turn off the hydraulic switch the engine lost complete power. There were no abnormal noises, nor were there any indications of an impending engine failure. The CFI mentioned that the hydraulic switch is on the lower console, and he was unaware of any nearby switches that would have turned off the engine.

During a postaccident examination by a mechanic and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, no anomalies were noted with the engine that would have precluded normal operations. The spark plugs were removed and consistent with normal operations. The engine rotated smoothly; the valves moved freely and evenly, thumb compression was established, and spark was obtained from the magnetos. The engine controls remained attached to the carburetor, the mixture was locked to the full rich position and the carburetor heat was in the OFF position. The carburetor was disassembled, and no anomalies were noted with the internal components. The fuel strainer was removed from the engine and the screen/bowl were clear of debris. The oil filter was also removed from the engine and was clear of debris. At the accident site, the ignition switch was found in the BOTH position.

The instrument panel was removed, the electrical wires were examined, and no abnormalities were noted. The ignition switch positions (RIGHT, LEFT, and BOTH) were tested and functioned normally. However, when the key was in the LEFT or RIGHT position, a movement of the key would temporarily ground the switch. It was noted that a long keychain attached to the key extended over the hydraulics switch when the key was in the ignition.

History of Flight

Autorotation: Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Autorotation: Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Autorotation: Hard landing

Flight instructor Information

Certificate:

Commercial; Flight instructor

Age:

83,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

Lap only

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

Helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

BasicMed With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

November 28, 2017

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Airline transport; Commercial; Flight engineer

Age:

60,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land; Multi-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

Lap only

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 1 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

June 26, 2018

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

May 19, 2018

Flight Time:

14961 hours (Total, all aircraft), 69 hours (Total, this make and model), 3000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 57 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

Bell

Registration:

N1159W

Model/Series:

47G 3B1

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

1964

Amateur Built:

 

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

2941

Landing Gear Type:

Skid

Seats:

3

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

May 1, 2018 Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2850 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

27 Hrs

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

6895 Hrs at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Lycoming

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

TV0-435 SERIE

Registered Owner:

 

Rated Power:

270 Horsepower

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual (VMC)

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

SPS,1019 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

7 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

10:52 Local

Direction from Accident Site:

69°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

11 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None / None

Wind Direction:

270°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A / N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.05 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

14°C / 5°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

 

Departure Point:

Wichita Falls, TX (F14 )

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Wichita Falls, TX (F14 )

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

11:05 Local

Type of Airspace:

Unknown

Airport Information

Airport:

Wichita Valley

Airport

F14

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

1005 ft msl

Runway Surface Condition:

Dry;Vegetation

Runway Used:

31

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

3320 ft / 40 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

Forced landing;Simulated forced landing;Straight-in

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious, 1 Minor

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Passenger Injuries:

 

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Serious, 1 Minor

Latitude, Longitude:

33.941944,-98.602218(est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Link, Samantha

 

Additional Participating Persons:

William J Fitzgerald; Federal Aviation Administration; Lubbock, TX

 

Original Publish Date:

October 20, 2021                                                              Investigation Class:

3

Note:

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

 

Investigation Docket:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=98599

 

 





Created 1 years 88 days ago
by Admin

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