NTSB Identification: LAX01LA016.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 13, 2000 in HILO, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/15/2002
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS350-BH, registration: N532BH
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 tail boom of the helicopter bent downward during landing following a practice hovering autorotation. The pilot reported that the accident occurred following their third hovering autorotation landing. He said that the touchdown was acceptable and would have met check ride criteria. About 2 seconds after touchdown there was "an obvious component failure" felt throughout the airframe, accompanied by severe vibrations and "audible and physical indications" of failure. After exiting the aircraft, the pilot expected to find a problem in the main rotor head and was surprised to find the tail boom bent downward at the midpoint. A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the tail boom was fabricated from skins of thickness 0.025 inches, as opposed to a skin thickness of 0.032 inches identified in the structural repair manual. The helicopter records showed that the tail boom was originally installed on the (new) helicopter at the factory and had acquired 14,053 hours in service.

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

Inadequate maintenance by the helicopter manufacturer during manufacture, which installed skins of inadequate thickness on the tail boom. A factor in the accident was the failure of the manufacturer's quality control system to detect the inadequate thickness.

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