NTSB Identification: FTW00LA137.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 29, 2000 in SALT MARSH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2001
Aircraft: Bell 206L3, registration: N17237
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that the helicopter lost tail rotor response while approaching an offshore platform. The pilot elected to make an autorotative emergency landing to the water. According to witnesses, the helicopter began the autorotation and proceeded to rotate to the left and 'pitch nose down.' The helicopter entered a steep descent, and the pilot reported that he could not control the helicopter. Prior to impacting the water, the helicopter assumed level flight and the emergency floats deployed. Upon impact with the water, the helicopter rolled right and came to rest inverted in the water. According to the operator's maintenance superintendent, a mechanic either omitted a bolt's cotter key or installed it improperly, which resulted in the disconnect of the tail rotor control rod assembly from the control lever located at the rear of the tail rotor gear box.

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

The company mechanic's failure to replace the bolt's cotter key properly and the subsequent loss of the nut, which then resulted in the tail rotor control disconnection and the pilot's inability to maintain aircraft control.

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