NTSB Identification: NYC98FA018.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 24, 1997 in FAIRVIEW, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/10/1998
Aircraft: Enstrom F-28C, registration: N1944J
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter was purchased and flown about 1 hour to another airport. The following day the pilot departed on a ferry flight. About 5 minutes after takeoff, the engine lost power when the RPM dropped to 1,900, and the pilot entered autorotation. During the descent the engine continued to idle and the cabin filled with smoke. The helicopter landed hard and the main rotor blades struck the tailboom. The last annual inspection occurred 53 months before the accident. A Special Flight Permit was issued by the FAA for the ferry flight. The helicopter's engine was overhauled 33 months before the accident, and 3.9 hours had been logged on the engine from the date of overhaul, to the date of the helicopter's purchase. At the time of the accident the engine had accumulated a total of 6.7 hours since overhaul. Examination of the engine revealed the forward side of the #2 piston was melted and eroded away, and a hole had melted through the piston. An FAA publication described detonation as spontaneous combustion which can burn a hole completely through a piston.

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

inadequate maintenance, which led to detonation and a melted piston, and subsequent power loss.

Full narrative available

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