NTSB Identification: CHI02FA001.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 03, 2001 in Attica, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Enstrom F-28A, registration: N137E
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain following a reported in-flight loss of engine power during cruise. A witness, who was a pilot, stated, "Low rotor - R.P.M. Low - Power[.] Observed flying due North from P.T. Auto Sales." Another witness stated that the aircraft was heading northwest. The witness said that the helicopter was leaning to its left side, it appeared the motor stopped, and the helicopter went straight down. The Lapeer County Sheriff's report stated, "[The Arcadia Township Fire Chief] said that he was at the scene of the crash and indicated that he had not smelled any fuel and seen no signs of it leaking." The pilot held a student pilot certificate and an expired third-class medical certificate. He listed on that medical that he had 200 total hours of flight time. The helicopter came to rest on the nose of its cabin assembly. The front of the cabin assembly was crushed aft. The three rotor blades were found attached to the hub. The tail rotor assembly was found intact. Continuity was established to the flight control surfaces. Control continuity was established to the engine. The engine produced a thumb compression at all cylinders. The magnetos produced spark when the engine was rotated with the master switch in the on position. The fuel servo screen was found clean. A liquid was found exiting the unplugged servo screen when the electric boost pump was turned on. About an ounce of a blue colored fluid was recovered from the fuel strainer. Both fuel tanks were found compromised. The airframe revealed no signs of fuel staining. There was no smell of fuel at the accident site. Sections of ground around the cabin were dug up. The ground did not have any smell of fuel. No pre-impact anomalies were found. A fueling log, marked "100 LL", was found at the departure heliport. A fuel log entry dated October 3, 2001, had a "before" entry that stated, "38.6" and its "after" entry stated, "69.7".

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

The reported loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during cruise flight, the pilot not performing an autorotation, the pilot not maintaining rotor RPM during his emergency descent, and the pilot not maintaining control of the helicopter. A factor was the trees.

Full narrative available

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