NTSB Identification: DEN04LA145.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 17, 2004 in Aspen, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Bell 214B-1, registration: N214B
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.
According to the pilot, as he brought the helicopter to a 90-foot hover, he felt a "slight shudder" as the engine experienced a compressor stall. He stated that the engine rpm dropped to idle and he noticed the fuel flow had dropped to "idle fuel flow." He turned the helicopter downhill and attempted a forced landing on a nearby ski slope. The helicopter struck the ground with its nose, slid approximately 30 feet, and rolled over on its left side. The impact crushed the forward section of the fuselage, buckled the tail boom, and separated the vertical fin, tail rotor assembly, and both landing gear skids. The engine continued to run at idle after the helicopter came to rest. During a serviceability inspection of the engine's wire harness, a broken wire was located in the overspeed control unit's cannon plug. The wire in the "crimp type" cannon plug had been repaired with a solder joint, which is not allowed due to the close tolerance of the pins. According to the technician, the broken wire condition, in itself, would not engage the overspeed system or result in the loss of engine power. However, it was noted that, due to the close tolerance of the pins, any movement of the broken wire could enable the solder joint on one pin to touch the other pin. During a bench test, the technician stated that he "shorted pin B to pin C." This shorted condition resulted in the inadvertent activation of the fuel shut-off valve, which would result in the reduction of engine power to approximately 50 percent.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the inadvertent activation of the engine's fuel shut off valve, resulting in the reduction of engine power to 50 percent due to an improper cannon plug wire repair on the engine's wire harness assembly. Contributing factors include the improper wire repair, the low altitude, and the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing.
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