NTSB Identification: FTW03LA104.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 06, 2003 in Kingsland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Bell 206L-3, registration: N793CA
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 started the engine of the helicopter prior to the two medical crewmembers boarding. One medical crewmember opened the aft cargo door, removed medical equipment, and then closed the door. He then checked the auxiliary power unit (APU) door and boarded the helicopter. During this time the second medical crewmember had boarded the helicopter. The pilot reported that the takeoff was normal. Ten minutes after takeoff, the helicopter was in cruise flight at 700 feet agl (8 miles from the destination) when a loud bang was heard. The helicopter yawed right and the nose dipped. The pilot lowered the collective and moved the throttle to flight idle. Subsequently, the helicopter landed hard on soft terrain, amongst pecan trees, and came to rest upright. Examination of the accident site and helicopter revealed that a medical blanket had exited from the aft cargo compartment and contacted the tailrotor blades severing the tailrotor drive shaft. Examination of the aft cargo door revealed that its locking mechanism was not damaged, and operated normally.

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

The loss of tail rotor drive as a result of a blanket coming in contract with the tailrotor blades, after the aft cargo door was left unsecured. Contributing factors were the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing, and the failure of the medical crewmember to properly secure the aft cargo door.

Full narrative available

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