NTSB Identification: FTW97LA190.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, May 13, 1997 in LAREDO, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Schweizer 269C, registration: N107SM
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 pilot reported that the helicopter was in cruise flight at approximately 150 feet AGL, conducting an airborne seismic survey, when without warning, the engine lost power. The pilot lowered the collective as he turned the helicopter into the prevailing 10 knot wind. During the flare for an autorotation landing, the rotor RPM decayed, and the helicopter touched down hard. The 1995 model helicopter had accumulated a total of 713 flight hours. A fuel sample was taken from the fuel filter sump, which was located between the fuel tank and the throttle body of the fuel injected engine. A substantial amount of water was found in the sample. FAA inspectors, accompanied by the operator of the helicopter, inspected the fuel storage tank that was being used to refuel the helicopter. Examination of the fuel filter in the trailer mounted tank revealed the presence of water and rust.

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

loss of engine power due to fuel contamination, and the pilot's failure to properly check the fuel system for evidence of water during the preflight inspection. A factor was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.

Full narrative available

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