NTSB Identification: FTW02TA060.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 27, 2001 in El Paso, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2002
Aircraft: Bell OH-58A, registration: N76PD
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The helicopter departed and was in cruise flight at 4,500 feet msl (approximately 500 feet agl) when the pilot heard a "muffled pop." Approximately 2 seconds had passed when the pilot heard a second muffled pop, followed by either the low rotor rpm or engine out warning horn. The pilot then entered an autorotation to a residential street. During the autorotation, the pilot maneuvered the helicopter to avoid a moving ground vehicle. Subsequently, the main rotor blades contacted trees, the helicopter landed hard, and it came to rest upright. The pilot had accumulated 865 hours in helicopters with 4 hours in the make and model of the accident helicopter, at the time of the accident. The engine was examined; its outer casing was intact and there was no evidence of a catastrophic engine failure. A pneumatic check was performed and no leaks were found. The fuel lines were examined and no loose fittings or fuel leaks were found. The engine was removed from the airframe, placed in a test cell, and a test run was performed. The engine operated within the manufacturer's specifications at idle, cruise, takeoff, and maximum power settings. The reason for the loss of engine power was not determined.

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

The loss of engine power for an undetermined reason, which resulted in a forced landing. A contributing factor was the moving ground vehicle.

Full narrative available

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