NTSB Identification: ATL92FA029.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 45889.
Accident occurred Saturday, December 07, 1991 in FUQUAY-VARINA, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/27/1993
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS350D ASTAR, registration: N26FH
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 NEWS HELICOPTER WAS RETURNING FROM A REPORTING ASSIGNMENT AT NIGHT IN VMC CONDITIONS. THE SOLE SURVIVOR, A SPORTSCASTER, REPORTED THAT ABOUT 20 TO 25 MINUTES BEFORE THE CRASH, THE ENGINE CHIP LIGHT CAME ON. THE LIGHT CAME ON AND WAS RESET BY THE PILOT 5 TO 10 TIMES. THERE WAS ALSO A LOSS OF TORQUE ON THE TORQUE GAUGE. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE ENGINE LOST POWER & THE HELICOPTER CRASH LANDED IN AN OPEN FIELD. AN INSPECTION OF THE ENGINE REVEALED THE #2 BEARING HAD SEIZED, RESULTING IN FAILURE OF THE COMPRESSOR SHAFT. THE #2 BEARING HAD BEEN REPLACED DURING RECENT ENGINE MAINTENANCE, AND THERE WAS ONLY ABOUT 125 HOURS ON THE NEW BEARING. THE OIL JET TO THE BEARING WAS NOT BLOCKED OR CLOGGED. THERE WERE TORQUE FLUCTUATIONS OBSERVED ON TWO OCCASIONS DURING THE WEEK BEFORE TO THE ACCIDENT. SEVERAL COMPONENTS WERE CHANGED IN AN ATTEMPT TO PINPOINT THE PROBLEM. THE SURVIVOR'S SEAT BELT FAILED IN THE CRASH DUE TO AN IMPROPER INSTALLATION, AND HE WAS THROWN CLEAR OF THE WRECKAGE.

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

THE PILOT'S IMPROPER DECISION IN CONTINUING THE FLIGHT WITH A KNOWN ENGINE PROBLEM, AND THE SUBSEQUENT SEIZURE OF THE NUMBER TWO ENGINE BEARING, RESULTING IN ENGINE STOPPAGE. DARKNESS WAS A RELATED FACTOR.

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