NTSB Identification: LAX04CA122.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 12, 2004 in Mesa, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2004
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas 369FF, registration: N630N
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter's main rotor blades struck the tail boom following a hard landing. The pilot was demonstrating full-touchdown, practice autorotations for a potential customer. Before touching down, about 2 feet above ground level, the helicopter encountered a gust of wind and the nose turned 45 degrees to the left. The pilot applied right pedal pressure to counteract the sudden drift, but was unable to get the helicopter back on centerline. During touchdown, the helicopter landed hard and skidded about 4 feet until it came to rest without incident. A few seconds later, the pilot heard a loud noise. The main rotor blades had collided with the tail boom. The pilot did not report any mechanical problems 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 inadequate compensation for the wind gusts and subsequent failure to maintain directional control of the helicopter, which resulted in a hard landing. A contributing factor was a wind gust.

Full narrative available

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