NTSB Identification: FTW98FA156.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 24, 1998 in RIO HONDO, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Bell 206-A, registration: TGJET
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

A witness observed the Bell 206-A helicopter 'flying fast' in a southerly direction at about 500 to 600 feet agl. Flames were coming from the helicopter's right rear side in the vicinity of the engine compartment, and very little smoke was observed. Prior to descending from view, the helicopter appeared to be in controlled flight. Subsequently, the aircraft impacted the ground and was destroyed by the in-flight and postimpact fire. Examination of the engine compartment revealed that the step portion of the forward firewall where the throttle and fuel line pass through had localized bluing; however the fuel line connector which was still attached to the firewall fitting, did not exhibit any fire damage. The #3 tail rotor drive shaft segment was found 66 feet prior to the initial impact scar. It was fractured with fire damaged fiberglass cloth wrapped around the forward end of the fractured shaft. According to a NTSB metallurgist, 'the fracture was consistent with an overstress after exposure to elevated temperatures.' The helicopter was returning to Guatemala after completion of schedule maintenance performed in the United States.

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

The engine compartment fire due to undetermined reasons, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the tailboom.

Full narrative available

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