NTSB Identification: ATL89FA130.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39717.
Accident occurred Monday, April 17, 1989 in AIKEN, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/05/1990
Aircraft: BELL UH-1E, registration: N118HS
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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.

THE HELICOPTER WAS BEING OPERD AT APRX 100 FT AGL WITH A HOPPER EXTDD FROM A CABLE. WITNESSES HEARD A LOUD POPPING SOUND. AS THEY LOOKED IN THE DRCTN OF THE HELICOPTER, THEY NOTED THE TAIL ROTOR WAS NOT TURNING & ONE BLADE APPEARED TO BE HANGING. THE PLT RPRTD THERE WAS NO WARNING OF AN IMPENDING ANTI-TORQUE CONTROL PROBLEM WHEN HE LOST CONTROL OF THE HELICOPTER. THE HELICOPTER THEN COLLIDED WITH TREES & CRASHED. INV REVEALED THE PLT HAD RPRTD AN OIL LEAK FM THE 90 DEG GEARBOX ON 4/11/89. THE COMPANY MECHANIC SUBSEQUENTLY REPLACED THE GEARBOX & A FUNCTIONAL TEST FLT WAS COMPLETED. THE ACDNT OCCURRED AFTER APRX ANOTHER 6 HRS OF OPN. AN EXAM OF THE TAIL ROTOR ASSEMBLY REVEALED THAT 1 OF THE 2 RETENTION BOLTS WERE MISSING FM THE TAIL ROTOR PITCH CHANGE CROSSHEAD. THREADED IMPRINTS WERE FND INSIDE THE RESPECTIVE CROSSHEAD RETENTION THRU-BOLT HOLE. THE RETENTION BOLT, NUT, WASHER & COTTER PIN WERE NOT RECOVERED. BOTH TAIL ROTOR BLADES CONTAINED CHORDWISE MARKS WHICH CORRESPONDED TO MARKS ON THE VERTICAL FIN (OPPOSITE OF THE TAIL ROTOR TIP PATH PLANE).

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

IMPROPER INSTALLATION OF A TAIL ROTOR PITCH CHANGE CROSSHEAD RETENTION BOLT BY THE COMPANY MECHANIC, WHICH RESULTED IN LOOSENING OF THE BOLT AND EVENTUAL FAILURE OF THE TAIL ROTOR ASSEMBLY/BLADE AND SUBSEQUENT LOSS OF CONTROL. TREES AT THE CRASH SITE CONTRIBUTED TO HELICOPTER DAMAGE.

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