NTSB Identification: FTW96LA380.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, September 10, 1996 in LEADVILLE, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/18/1997
Aircraft: Bell UH-1H, registration: N23Y
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 helicopter crew was conducting high altitude flight tests pursuant to obtaining two Supplemental Type Certificates. From an altitude of 200 feet, and at 8,000 pounds gross weight, the pilot initiated an intentional autorotation at 42 knots with a one second delay before lowering the collective control. The pilot said he was unable to arrest the descent rate as the helicopter approached the runway at 40 knots. The helicopter was destroyed when it impacted the runway. A video camera was used to record the flight tests. A review of the tape disclosed that on at least two previous autorotations, the tail boom stinger struck the ground first. According to an FAA helicopter operations inspector, this was indicative that the pilot was 'outside the low end of the height-velocity curve.' He said that 'either there was insufficient airspeed for the altitude used, or there was insufficient altitude for the airspeed used.'

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

The pilot's improper inflight planning/decision in that he used an inadequate airspeed or an inadequate altitude, or both, for the intentional autorotation.

Full narrative available

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