NTSB Identification: SEA04CA107.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in Hood River, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Steward Rocky 162F, registration: N717CS
Injuries: 1 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.

During cruise at 2,200 feet mean sea level, the helicopter lost engine power, necessitating the pilot to make an autorotation. Having departed earlier in the morning with full fuel and making two previous flights, the pilot felt he had sufficient fuel for a third flight. On the return leg of the third flight the pilot noticed the engine LOW RPM light illuminate, a low RPM needle indication, a high manifold pressure gage indication, but no LOW FUEL warning light. Assuming he had lost engine power, the pilot made an autorotation to an open hay field. During the landing sequence into the high vegetation, the aircraft initially went up on its nose before rolling over on its left side. A post accident examination revealed no fuel was present when the right tank was dipped, and that 4 to 6 ounces of fuel was present when the helicopter's common drain was opened. The pilot indicated that during the course of the day he was using higher takeoff power settings due to the warmer weather, and that his miscalculations had caused him to run out of fuel.

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

The pilot's miscalculation of fuel consumption and his inadequate in-flight planning/decision, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and loss of engine power. A factor was the high vegetation.

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