NTSB Identification: ATL99LA108.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 16, 1999 in VENICE, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/03/2000
Aircraft: Hiller UH12-C, registration: N5317V
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, the helicopter lost power while flying at 50 knots and 100 feet above the ocean during a flight to record video footage of the area. The pilot made an auto-rotation into the water. Both the pilot and passenger were immediately rescued by a nearby boat. Examination of the helicopter by the FAA found that the engine had sustained salt water contamination. Further examination established continuity throughout the engine and the drive train. Additionally, the magnetos sparked when rotated, there was oil/water in the crankcase, and there was fuel/water in the fuel tanks. The fuel shutoff valve control lock was inspected and it was found that it could be repositioned to allow movement of the control to the 'off' position by a slight downward pressure on the control knob. The fuel shutoff valve control knob was directly to the left of the passenger's left foot and approximately one inch off the floor. The exact position of the fuel shutoff valve prior to the accident was not determined. The passenger was wearing his seatbelt loosely to allow him to film directly out of the doorway.

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

Loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the passenger inadvertently shutting off the fuel supply.

Full narrative available

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