NTSB Identification: NYC03LA037.
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Accident occurred Sunday, January 12, 2003 in Glady, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Sikorsky S-61A, registration: N8170V
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 came out of maintenance, the captain and first officer conducted a test flight, and then ferried it to the area of operation. The next day, the captain entered a 155-foot out of ground effect hover, and an external load was connected. About the same time, the helicopter started a slow uncommanded yaw to the right. The captain applied full left pedal, released the load, and entered an autorotation. Examination of the tailrotor control system revealed that the left anti-torque control cable was broken. The break was associated with a pulley assembly, the cable strands were bent rearward, and deformed. The cable fracture surfaces were irregular, and also deformed. The associated keeper pins displayed wear marks, and light scratches consistent with control cable contact. The associated pulley was intact. The pulley channel contained an oil-based debris, and control cable fragments. Both tailrotor cables were removed and reinstalled within the last 5.3 hours of operation by company maintenance personnel.

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

The improper installation of the left tailrotor control cable by company maintenance personnel.

Full narrative available

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