NTSB Identification: CHI96LA205.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 15, 1996 in LAMBERTVILLE, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/16/1996
Aircraft: Enstrom 280C, registration: N557H
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 reported that after setting cruise power a total loss of engine power occurred and an off-airport landing was made. During the landing the helicopter's main rotor blades impacted with the tail boom. Investigation revealed that the ground wire for the fuel gauge was loose. The helicopter's transmission had been removed from the helicopter less than ten hours before the accident, and the fuel gauge wires were disconnected during the transmission removal. The helicopter was equipped with a wooden dipstick which can be used to verify the amount of fuel in the fuel tank.

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

a total loss of engine power as a result of fuel exhaustion due to the pilot's inadequate preflight, and the pilot's misjudged distance/altitude during the subsequent autorotation. A factor was inadequate maintenance and inspection.

Full narrative available

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