NTSB Identification: DEN02LA046.
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Accident occurred Thursday, May 23, 2002 in Moab, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/2003
Aircraft: Bell 206B-III, registration: N191RH
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.

According to the pilot, he started the day with approximately 50 gallons of fuel on board. He departed from his home base, for a 10 minute flight to pick up several passengers, taking groups of them on 5 to 10 minute photo flights, for a total mission duration of approximately 80 to 90 minutes. After dropping off the last group, he returned to his home base. According to the fuel gauge, there was approximately 12 to 13 gallons of fuel remaining when he departed for the 10 minute repositioning flight back to his home base. Based on a fuel burn rate of approximately 25 gallons per hour, he calculated that he had 30 minutes of fuel remaining. He also stated that, due to noise abatement, he always approached his helipad at a "high airspeed and with a fast rate of descent and then about 100 feet, power up to make a high power, steep landing." Being "low on fuel," he did the same thing on this approach, starting his descent at approximately 80 to 100 knots. At 50 to 75 feet above ground level (agl), he initiated a 10 to 20 degree flare and began the descent to land. The fuel boost pump light illuminated, the "auto-relight" light came on, and the "engine out" light illuminated. His first thought was that he "ran the aircraft out of fuel." He realized that he was going too fast to land at his helipad. He adjusted his approach, and attempted to land in a parking lot just beyond his pad. He applied forward cyclic control, to level out the helicopter, hoping the boost pump light would go out and that the "auto relight" would reignite the fuel if it started pumping. The helicopter struck the ground hard with its right landing gear skid, bounced, slid forward approximately 15 feet, turned to its left approximately 90 degrees and slowly rolled over on its right side. The aircraft continued to turn to the left another 90 degrees and came to rest on its right side, facing 180 degrees from the direction of the approach. During the hard landing, the main rotor blades struck the tail boom, separating the vertical stabilizer, tail rotor and tail rotor gearbox. The main rotor hub and blade assembly was intact and remained attached to the main rotor mast.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain rotor rpm during a forced landing. A contributing factor was fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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