NTSB Identification: SEA02LA051.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 08, 2002 in Dayton, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/08/2003
Aircraft: Bell/Garlick UH-1H, registration: N116DR
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 pilot of the UH-1H rotorcraft had completed a fertilizer drop and was returning to the servicing area for fuel with the empty, 300 pound bucket attached by a 30 foot line. While approximately 300 feet above ground, he heard a series of loud reports coming from the engine, the rotorcraft yawed and the low RPM audio warning sounded. The pilot lowered collective and then maneuvered the rotorcraft towards an area of smaller trees. He then jettisoned the empty bucket and executed a hard auto-rotation landing on a road striking trees in the process. Post crash examination revealed approximately 30 gallons(~210 pounds) of fuel in the fuel tanks. The pilot reported that the rotorcraft was equipped with a low fuel warning system, which included an annunciator light that illuminated with approximately 170 pounds of fuel remaining, and that the annunciator light normally illuminated when the rotorcraft was flying with a load due to adverse operating angles. Once the rotorcraft's load was released and the rotorcraft returned to a level attitude, the light extinguished. He reported that the light is designed to provide a 20 minute warning before fuel is exhausted. He also remarked that the system was operating normally prior to the accident and that during the return flight after the last fertilizer drop, the light remained illuminated. The rotorcraft's Lycoming/Honeywell T53-L13B turboshaft engine was examined and no mechanical malfunction of the engine was found. The fuel system and its indicating system was examined with no discrepancy noted and fuel was found at the fuel control filter. The fuel control was examined and bench checked at the facilities of B.F. Goodrich, Pump & Engine Control Systems and no significant anomalies were noted during the examination and testing.

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

A loss of power for undetermined reason(s). Contributing factors were the pilot's delayed decision to jettison the empty bucket and the trees impacted during the auto-rotation landing.

Full narrative available

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