NTSB Identification: FTW02LA064.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 08, 2002 in Grand Isle 74, GM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Bell 206L-3, registration: N349AL
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The helicopter was in cruise flight at an altitude of 1,200 feet msl, 22 miles south of its destination, when the engine lost power. The pilot verified that the engine had failed, made a "May Day" call, initiated an autorotation to the water and inflated the emergency floats. Prior to contact with the water, the pilot pulled all available collective pitch, and the helicopter "impacted in a slight nose low, right banking attitude. During impact the right front float bag ruptured." The helicopter rolled right and remained floating inverted as the pilot egressed. According to an FAA inspector, the pilot reported having a problem determining the helicopter's height above the water. "The weather was VMC with the wind from the southwest at an estimated 10 knots and the seas state displayed wave heights of two to three feet." Examination of the helicopter revealed that the PC air line between the tee for the power turbine governor and the fuel control was found fractured under the "B" nut at the fuel control. An examination of the tube assembly at NTSB Materials Laboratory, revealed fatigue cracking within the flared portion of the tube end. The origin areas were located on the inside surface of the tube, at circumferential scoring marks. The location of the origin areas approximately corresponds to the inside diameter of the fitting ("B" nut) that mates with the flared end. According to the engine maintenance manual, excessive torque on pneumatic sensing system connections results in cracking of the flare or adjacent tube area in contact with the ferrule.

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

The pilot's misjudged landing flare. A contributing factor was the fatigue fracture of the PC air line due to the improper installation by company maintenance personnel, which resulted in a loss of engine power.

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