NTSB Identification: FTW97LA021.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 19, 1996 in WATKINS, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/01/1997
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N34CM
Injuries: 2 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 instructor was demonstrating autorotation techniques to his student. He stated at a speed of less than 10 knots, he entered a 'hovering auto(rotation)' to runway 17 from an altitude of 3 feet agl. He estimated the wind to be from 170 degrees at 12 to 15 knots. Recorded wind at Denver International Airport, located 10 miles northwest of the accident site, was from 290 degrees at 12 knots. The helicopter touched down and the main rotor blades struck the tail boom. The pilot said this was a 'fairly common occurrence' with this particular helicopter make and model operating under 'low rotor rpm and gusty wind.' A spokesman for the helicopter manufacturer said that if the helicopter had been landed upwind, the accident would not have occurred. He added that if gusty wind conditions were present, autorotation demonstrations should not have been attempted.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The flight instructor's improper decision to attempt a hovering autorotation during gusty wind conditions. A factor was the gusty wind. Full narrative available
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