NTSB Identification: CHI03LA084.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, March 16, 2003 in Highland, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Bell 430, registration: N431UM
Injuries: 1 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 was substantially damaged when the tail rotor impacted a roadway sign while repositioning at night for departure. The medical evacuation flight had landed on a roadway to pick-up a patient. The medical crew had departed the helicopter prior to the reposition. The pilot was the only occupant on-board at the time. The pilot reported he began to taxi. He stated he "cleared the tail to move left into the turn around along M-59. I started to move the aircraft which now was facing south into M-59 ... when the tail rotor hit a steel reflector post. The aircraft became airborne to around five or six feet when I lowered the collective and rolled the throttles to idle to stop the aircraft rotation." The aircraft impacted on the left rear skid first and came to rest one-hundred eightly degrees from its initial heading. A post-accident examination revealed the tail rotor and gearbox had departed the helicopter. The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter prior to the accident.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance to the roadway sign. Contributing factors were the failure of the tail rotor gearbox, the roadway sign and the low lighting conditions (night).

Full narrative available

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