NTSB Identification: FTW01FA115.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Friday, May 04, 2001 in Vermillion 44, GM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/2003
Aircraft: Bell 407, registration: N917AL
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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.

While in cruise flight, the pilot reported that a "slight vibration became noticeable." After a few minutes, the vibration became more pronounced, and was accompanied by a noise. During an attempted precautionary landing to an offshore platform, the vibration and noise level increased again, and total engine power was lost. The pilot then initiated an autorotation to the water, deployed the skid floats, and landed safely. While the helicopter was being towed in the water, the helicopter rolled inverted. Examination of the helicopter after recovery revealed that the KAflex engine-to-transmission driveshaft was fractured, and the forward tail rotor driveshaft segment was separated. Examination of the KAflex driveshaft revealed fatigue fractures that originated from a bolt hole in the first flex frame of the coupling at the transmission end of the shaft and fatigue fractures in the end fitting at the transmission end. The primary fracture was a fatigue crack that occurred in a bolt hole where a bolt joined the first flex frame to the center flex frame. The driveshaft was determined to be manufactured within engineering specifications. The fractured tail rotor driveshaft showed evidence of torsional overstress. The KAflex driveshaft coupling had a total time of 2,114.2 hours and an airworthiness life limit of 5,000 hours. Following the accident, the manufacturer issued a service bulletin introducing a new KAflex driveshaft with a 1,250-hour overhaul interval.

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

Failure of the engine-to-transmission driveshaft coupling due to fatigue.

Full narrative available

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