NTSB Identification: NYC03LA031.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, December 18, 2002 in Odenton, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N651GA
Injuries: 3 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 departed on an aerial photography mission in a Bell 206B helicopter with what he thought was sufficient fuel for 1.6 hours of flight at 28 gph. Returning to the airport to refuel, he experienced a power loss. A witness reported the helicopter appeared to drop in from about 20 feet. The helicopter struck the ground hard and bounced. The main rotor struck the tail boom aft of the horizontal stabilizer and it separated from the helicopter. The pilot reported that he had been airborne for 1.3 hours. The FAA inspector reported that the fuel tank was empty. Further inspection of the fuel quantity measuring system revealed that it was smooth with no hesitation felt in the sensing arm, or observed on the fuel quantity gauge. With the fuel sensing up in the full up position, the fuel quantity gauge indicated about 2 gallons less than full. With the fuel quantity arm in the lowered position, and no fuel in the tank, the fuel quantity gauge read zero or empty.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to monitor his fuel supply which resulted in a power loss due to fuel exhaustion, and the pilot's misjudged flare, which resulted in a hard landing. Full narrative available
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