NTSB Identification: FTW98TA152.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 19, 1998 in DULCE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Bell OH-58C, registration: N505JA
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 performed a preflight inspection of the helicopter for a flight from a 9,060 foot elevation. On departure, the pilot remembered the helicopter yawing nose left, and the passenger stated that the engine became quiet and the helicopter vibration seemed to stop. The pilot autorotated to the steep sloping vegetated terrain. Postimpact inspection of the engine fuel controller revealed that the PC line had disconnected from the fuel controller. The helicopter received its last annual inspection on September 18, 1997, 93 flight hours prior to the accident. The pilot reported that he had observed a Jicarilla tribal member changing navigation light bulbs on the helicopter; the same individual expressed further interest in performing maintenance on the helicopter. The maintenance organization that performed the last annual inspection did not use torque paint on the PC line B-nut, which is required by the engine manufacturer but not mandated by FARs. The pilot reported that 'because of the location of the PC line connection to the fuel controller, it would be difficult, during a normal preflight inspection, to determine if the PC line B-nut was properly torqued or if it was loose.'

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

The partial loss of engine power due to a disconnected bleed air line to the fuel controller and the unsuitable terrain for a forced landing. Factors were the loose B-nut, the inadequate maintenance by unknown personnel, insufficient standards/requirements for the use of torque paint, and the high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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