NTSB Identification: FTW97TA154.
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Accident occurred Monday, April 07, 1997 in CAPITAN, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/1997
Aircraft: Bell TH-13T, registration: N74HL
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that while flying at an altitude of about 35 feet AGL and 30 knots, 'a slight shudder was felt in the helicopter as though a change of wind direction had occurred.' All instruments and systems 'remained in the green and functioning.' Several minutes later, a complete loss of engine power occurred. The pilot recalled hearing a 'strange noise' immediately preceding the loss of power. Subsequently, he initiated a low altitude auto rotation. Approximately 10 feet AGL, the helicopter began to turn to the left, and 'in order to avoid a roll over,' the pilot lowered the collective and informed the passenger of an immanent hard landing. During contact with the ground, the main rotor contacted and severed the tail boom. Immediately following the hard landing, a fire started in the engine compartment. Both the pilot and passenger evacuated, and the helicopter was consumed by fire. Examination of the wreckage to discover the cause of the loss of engine power was unsuccessful due to extreme fire damage to the engine, fuel system, and accessories. The ambient temperature and dew point were conducive to carburetor icing.

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

loss of engine power for undetermined reason(s).

Full narrative available

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