NTSB Identification: DEN01LA077.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 25, 2001 in Zuni, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/01/2001
Aircraft: Bell UH-1H, registration: N56CF
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

While in cruise flight, the pilot noticed an illuminated master caution light and high engine oil temperature. A few moments later, he received a report from a pilot in a second helicopter telling him that his engine was on fire. The pilot then noticed an engine chip light. He shut down the engine and "initiated an autorotation." The engine seized at approximately 200 feet above ground level (AGL) and the helicopter hit the ground hard. The skids grabbed in the soft dirt and collapsed. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the skids, bottom of fuselage and fire damage to the engine. The fire extinguished prior to landing. An examination of the engine at a helicopter repair station in Redding, California, identified that the "engine's number three and four bearing pack seal had failed." The failure resulted in "high engine oil temperature, which led to the engine fire and subsequent failure of the engine."

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

a hard landing due to the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control during autorotation/flare. A factor was the total loss of engine power due to mechanical failure.

Full narrative available

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