NTSB Identification: LAX96LA168.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 14, 1996 in YERINGTON, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/16/1996
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N519BH
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

The pilot experienced a total loss of engine power while cruising between 200 and 300 feet above ground level and at an airspeed of 100 knots. The pilot reported that the engine noise resembled the same whining as if it were in a shut down mode. The pilot entered an autorotation and landed in an open field approximately 0.5 miles from his airstrip. The accident site examination revealed that the helicopter had touched down with forward speed and made depressions in the soft ground over a distance of 25 to 30 feet. The helicopter rolled onto its side and a main rotor blade severed the tail boom. Tail rotor blade and drive shaft components separated from the helicopter and were found 200 feet from the main wreckage. The last annual inspection was performed 6 months prior to the accident flight and the aircraft had flown 16.9 hours. Also, the last compressor wash was performed about 2 months prior to the flight and had flown 8 hours since then. The postaccident engine examination revealed accumulated nozzle port debris and dirty compressor blades and vanes. The engine flamed out during its first test run and, during subsequent tests, it produced power 7.8 percent below specifications.

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

the partial loss of engine power and the pilot's misjudged flare during an autorotation landing in soft dirt with excessive forward speed. The power loss resulted from flight operations in an environment which debris contaminated the engine's nozzle port and compressor assembly.

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