NTSB Identification: LAX92LA319.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 47484.
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 28, 1992 in HAYFORK, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/14/1993
Aircraft: BELL UH-1B, registration: N89NW
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 HAD JUST DROPPED OFF A LOAD OF LOGS AND WAS EN ROUTE BACK TO THE CUTTING AREA WHEN HE HEARD A LOUD BANG CONCURRENT WITH A LEFT YAW AND A RAPID LOSS OF ROTOR SPEED. THE PILOT ENTERED AN AUTOROTATION AND COLLIDED WITH TREES DURING THE DESCENT. EXAMINATION REVEALED THAT THE MAIN ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT HAD FAILED. EXAMINATION OF THE SHAFT REVEALED EVIDENCE OF A LOSS OF GREASE FROM THE SHAFT'S BOOT, WHICH RESULTED IN AN OVERHEATING CONDITION AND CATASTROPHIC FAILURE OF THE UNIT. THE 'O' RING, WHICH PROVIDES THE GREASE SEAL FOR THE SHAFT BOOT, WAS FOUND DEFORMED WITH EVIDENCE THAT GREASE HAD BEEN SLUNG FROM THE BOOT. THE MAIN ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT HAD BEEN REMOVED FOR MAINTENANCE AND REPLACED THREE DAYS AND 6 HOURS PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT. THE MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTIONS CALL FOR A NEW 'O' RING TO BE INSTALLED WHEN THE DRIVE SHAFT AND BOOT ARE REASSEMBLED. ACORDING TO THE BELL LABORATORY, THE 'O' RING APPEARED TO HAVE NOT BEEN REPLACED.

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

THE FAILURE OF THE MAIN ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT DUE TO THE IMPROPER INSTALLATION BY COMPANY MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL OF AN 'O' RING SEAL, WHICH ALLOWED THE PACKING GREASE TO ESCAPE AND CAUSED THE OVER TEMPERATURE FAILURE OF THE DRIVE SHAFT. A FACTOR IN THE ACCIDENT WAS THE LACK OF SUITABLE TERRAIN IN WHICH TO PERFORM AN AUTOROTATION.

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