NTSB Identification: LAX02LA189.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 08, 2002 in Henderson, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/29/2004
Aircraft: Robinson R22 Beta, registration: N7176S
Injuries: 2 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 landed hard during an autorotation following the failure of one clutch drive belt. While maneuvering about 500 feet above ground level during an aerial photography business-related flight, the pilot and passenger smelled an unusual odor. About 5 seconds later, the pilot felt a jolt and observed the "Clutch Light" illuminate in the cockpit. The pilot initiated an autorotative descent but misjudged his landing flare, and the helicopter touched down hard on the underlying level open terrain. During the event, the clutch light illuminated continuously. The pilot did not follow the prescribed flight manual emergency procedure to pull the clutch circuit breaker. Engine power was not lost. The pilot allowed rotor rpm to decrease, and he erroneously entered an autorotation rather than performing the prescribed immediate landing while being prepared for the possibility of an autorotative descent. The subsequent wreckage examination revealed one of the two rotor system drive (vee) belts had broken. The second belt was intact, with the lower section of the belt found on the lower pulley in the correct position. The upper section of the belt on the upper pulley was found shifted forward one groove on the pulley.

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

The pilot's misjudged landing flare during an autorotation, which resulted in a hard landing. The pilot's failure to follow the listed emergency procedures in the rotorcraft flight manual and the partial failure of the rotor system's drive belts were factors.

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