NTSB Identification: LAX02TA118.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 28, 2002 in Chico, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Bell OH-58A, registration: N487BC
Injuries: 2 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.

While en route to the helicopter base, the pilot detected a left yaw, followed by a low main rotor speed warning. After he lowered the collective, the main rotor light went out. He glanced at the N1 gage (gas producer tachometer) and noted it at 70 percent and decreasing. No other warning lights were visible on the caution panel. An autorotation was performed to a field and the helicopter touched down hard. During the landing, the main rotor flexed downward and severed the tail boom. The engine was running at idle after the landing and the pilot performed a manual shutdown. An engine examination did not reveal any evidence of preimpact failures. The operator reported that pilots were trained annually on emergency procedures through oral and flight testing. It had been over a year since the pilot's last emergency training. Department pilots were not allowed to practice autorotations without the Chief Pilot on board, or prior written approval. The pilot had not practiced an autorotation in over 1 year prior to the accident.

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

the loss of engine power for an undetermined reason. Factors in the accident were the pilot's misjudged flare resulting in a hard landing and the lack of recent experience in emergency procedures by the pilot.

Full narrative available

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