NTSB Identification: FTW97TA162.
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Accident occurred Monday, April 14, 1997 in MARFA, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Hughes OH-6A, registration: N6638P
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 instructor pilot, an FAA designated flight examiner, was giving a 'semi-annual helicopter checkride' to a commercial pilot. According to the examiner, the flight was planned for a 'before dark departure...for a more gradual dark adaptation for planned PM full touchdown autorotations.' The commercial pilot performed 'several hovering autorotations and a Run-On landing before complete sunset.' The commercial pilot's first practice autorotation was initiated at dusk from approximately 700 feet AGL, and all indications were 'normal.' At about 65 feet, he initiated a flare and 'held the flare to an approximate altitude of 10 feet, where he began the initial pitch pull and began to level the aircraft.' The helicopter touched down prior to reaching a 'full level attitude and prior to applying full up collective.' The helicopter 'made initial contact on the rear portion of the skids causing the main rotor blades to flex down and sever the tailboom' approximately 2-1/2 feet forward of the tail rotor gearbox.

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

the pilot's improper touchdown, and the designated examiner's inadequate supervision. The light condition at dusk was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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