NTSB Identification: DEN00LA124.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 07, 2000 in LOGAN, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/17/2001
Aircraft: Bell 206L-3, registration: N38903
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.

Following maintenance on the helicopter, the pilot was conducting a test flight. Takeoff was made with the left passenger door unlatched. When this was pointed out to the pilot by radio, he commenced a precautionary approach/landing to close the door. During the approach, the pilot felt and heard a bang followed by a vibration and rattling noise. This subsided and the pilot analyzed a loss of tail rotor control. He conducted a forced landing and the helicopter rolled on its left side during the landing. The main rotor blades and rotor head separated and the main rotor blades and tail rotor struck the tail boom. At the time of the flight, a jacket with red and black stenciled letters on the back was lying on the passenger seat. It was not found following the accident. Examination of the helicopter following the accident revealed a torsional fracture of the number 4 tail rotor drive shaft section and a bend in the number 5 section. Also, the tail rotor blades had red paint transfer, and one had a dent in the leading edge, and was bent near the blade root. Analysis of the paint transfer revealed it did not come from the jacket lettering. Parts of the helicopter were painted red and the red part of the tail boom exhibited paint transfer and slap marks. The tail rotor blades did not exhibit rotational impact damage.

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

in-flight collision with a jacket, which blew out of the helicopter because the left passenger door was not properly secured prior to takeoff. A contributing factor was the pilot's failure to ensure the door was properly closed prior to takeoff.

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