NTSB Identification: NYC00LA021.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 27, 1999 in WESTBURY, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/2000
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS-350-BA, registration: N350SL
Injuries: 1 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.

While in cruise flight, the pilot detected a severe vibration and initially elected to return to his departure airport, and then elected to perform a precautionary landing. When the pilot brought the helicopter to a hover, the helicopter rotated nose left. The pilot then landed, shut down the engine, and noticed the tail rotor gear box and vertical fin had separated from the helicopter. One of the tail rotor pitch link control rods was found to have failed. Metallurgical examination of the failed components, found evidence of fatigue on the failed tail rotor pitch link control rod. The manufacturer specified an after last flight of the day (ALF) inspection, as a detailed inspection of the helicopter that could be performed by pilots or maintenance personnel. The Director of Maintenance for the operator reported pilots were responsible for all daily checks. The pilot had not been trained to conduct this inspection, and the FAA check airman who conducted the pilot's initial FAR 135 checkride was not aware of the specifics of the ALF inspection. In addition, the checklist found in the helicopter had not been updated with the latest, more detailed ALF inspection.

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

the failure of the operator to ensure the pilot was adequately trained to conduct all inspections required by the flight manual, which resulted in the pilot's inadequate preflight and subsequent failure of the tail rotor pitch change rod. Factors were the inadequate preflight by the pilot, and the failure of the FAA to detect the deficiency in the pilot's training, and ensure that the operator used the most current checklist available.

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