NTSB Identification: FTW97LA001.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 01, 1996 in LAFAYETTE, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/02/1997
Aircraft: CONTINENTAL COPTERS EL TOMCAT MK-5A, registration: N7MH
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 he and his groundcrew were preparing to commence an aerial application job for a farmer who was reportedly 'anxious' to get the job underway. The helicopter was transported to the job site on a trailer from which it was normally operated. After a preflight, the pilot prepared to take off from the trailer. Upon lift-off, the rear portion of the left skid became 'snagged' on the left rear tiedown. According to a witness and the pilot, the aircraft 'pitched up, rolled left', and at 'least one of the main rotor blades struck the ground.' Subsequently, the skid broke loose from the tie down, and the nose pitched down and impacted the ground. During this sequence, the tail boom separated from the helicopter. The pilot reported that he and his groundcrew were fatigued when they arrived on the job. During a 168 day time period, he had flown over 400 hours, and had spent approximately 656 hours driving to jobs. He reported his normal work day to be 0500 to 2300 (allowing 6 hours for sleep). The pilot stated that he needed 8 hours of sleep on average to feel fully rested.

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

the pilot's failure to ensure a proper preflight and the groundcrew's failure to remove the tiedown. Factors were pilot and groundcrew fatigue.

Full narrative available

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