NTSB Identification: FTW03FA028.
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Accident occurred Friday, November 01, 2002 in Fort Gibson, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2004
Aircraft: Hughes 269A, registration: N8885F
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During cruise flight, the helicopter experienced an in-flight breakup. Witnesses observed what appeared to be tail rotor, and main rotor components separate from the helicopter as it flew overhead. One of the witnesses reported that a portion of the tail rotor separated, and as helicopter pitched to the right, the main rotor separated. Subsequently, the helicopter's main fuselage started to spin and descended vertically toward the ground. Another witness reported that he heard a "pop," and observed the main rotor slowing, wobbling, stop turning, break away from the helicopter, and travel forward of the helicopter. He reported that the helicopter pitched "nose forward and then fell almost vertical." The main rotor assembly was found approximately 450 feet east of the main wreckage site, and the tail rotor components were found with the main wreckage. Metallurgical examination revealed that the left cluster fitting lugs (P/N 269A2234), which attached to the left tail boom strut, failed due to fatigue.

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

The in-flight separation of the tail boom resulting from the failure of the fuselage to tail boom attachment fitting lugs, due to fatigue.

Full narrative available

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