NTSB Identification: MIA00FA003.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 05, 1999 in CENTREVILLE, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/2000
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N1285S
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.

Ground crew support personnel observed the aerial spray helicopter lift off at about 1150 with the pilot and tree tract owner aboard for the purpose of defining the tract boundaries. Lift off appeared and sounded normal. Thirty minutes later, absent any contact or sight of the rotorcraft, the ground crew became concerned and started searching. At 1504, the wreckage was found by police helicopter search near the edge of a clearing. Postcrash examination of the crash site revealed the rotorcraft collided with two large trees before impact with the terrain about 60 feet into the clearing. Postcrash examination of the engine, drive-train, transmission, airframe, rotors, and flight controls revealed the engine was not producing power, precrash. Examination of the fuel system revealed the airframe fuel filter's wing-nut drain had been positioned and locked in the 'drain' position, and there was very little fuel aboard, either in the fuel cell or in the engine's fuel lines.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection of the helicopter's fuel system resulting in an in-flight loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of overboard porting of fuel when the airframe fuel filter was left in the 'drain and locked' position and the subsequent collision with trees during an attempted autorotation.

Full narrative available

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