NTSB Identification: ATL04LA070.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 24, 2004 in Jonesboro, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Eurocopter France EC120B, registration: N125MG
Injuries: 2 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 certified flight instructor (CFI) and the dual-student had completed five practice touchdown autorotations without any incident. However, during the accident autorotation, the CFI stated that the dual-student had placed the helicopter in an autorotative descent and his cross-check showed normal rotor RPM indications. At 50 feet above the ground, the in CFI told the student to "progressive decel" and at six feet above ground to "cushion". The dual student pulled additional rear cyclic and the tail stinger struck the ground. As the helicopter rebounded into a nose low attitude the CFI pulled collective and aft cyclic to level the helicopter for touchdown. However, a loud noise was heard after the tail stinger hit the ground and the helicopter rebounded. According to the CFI, during the touchdown phase of the autorotation, the main rotor blades made contact with and severed the tail boom. The helicopter landed and the CFI shut down the engine. The CFI did not report any mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter prior to the accident. The FAA Rotorcraft Flying Handbook includes the procedures for a straight-in autorotation. Part of the technique section states that "care must be taken in the execution of the flare so that the cyclic control is not... moved so slowly as to not arrest the descent, which may allow the helicopter to settle so rapidly that the tail rotor strikes the ground." It also states that "extreme caution should be used to avoid an excessive nose high and tail low attitude below 10 feet," to "increase collective pitch, as necessary, to check the descent and cushion the landing,"

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

The instructor's inadequate supervision, and the dual-student's improper flare which resulted in a hard landing.

Full narrative available

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