NTSB Identification: LAX96TA016.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 20, 1995 in IMPERIAL, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/09/1996
Aircraft: HUGHES OH-6A, registration: N61865
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he was airborne for 5.5 hours on an observation mission. He was returning to the airport and was about 3 miles from landing, when the engine flamed out. The pilot initiated an autorotation and landed hard, severing the tail boom. A post-accident examination of the helicopter revealed that the fuel tank was empty. The fuel system was pressurized and found to be intact. The remaining fuel was drained and found to be 1.5 pints total in quantity. No contaminates were found in the drained fuel, the fuel lines, or filter. No other malfunctions or anomolies were found in the fuel system, including the low fuel level panel warning light. The performance charts showed the helicopter had a maximum endurance of 4.25 hours. The low fuel warning light was designed to illuminate when there was about 70 pounds of fuel remaining.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's improper planning/decision and failure to ensure there was an adequate supply of fuel, which led to fuel exhaustion and a forced (autorotative) landing.

Full narrative available

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