NTSB Identification: LAX01LA079.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 23, 2001 in Ely, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N8353F
Injuries: 4 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 single engine helicopter experienced a loss of engine power after the oil was inadvertently pumped overboard. A company mechanic replaced the torque gauge prior to the accident flight due to needle "bounce." The mechanic bled the torque system and reinstalled a radio that was removed to facilitate the work. During the radio installation, he inadvertently engaged the bleed valve, which is located behind the instrument panel, allowing oil to flow out of the engine from behind the instrument panel. While at 9,500 feet, the engine lost power and the pilot performed an autorotation landing to a field at the base of mountains. The pilot said he touched down smooth and light; however, the main rotor blades flexed and severed the tail boom. As a result of the accident, the operator rerouted the torque system bleed line toward the pilot's feet so that they could detect an inadvertent oil leak.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The mechanic's inadvertent activation of the bleed valve, which resulted in a loss of engine oil and loss of engine power while in cruise flight. Full narrative available
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