NTSB Identification: LAX05LA112.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 12, 2005 in Thermal, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Hiller UH-12B, registration: N5311V
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 helicopter landed hard and the main rotor blades severed the tail boom following a loss of engine power and an autorotation to the runway surface. The helicopter had just undergone an annual inspection. The pilot said the fuel gauge was reading less than 1/2 full, and that a full fuel tank, approximately 25 gallons, provides about 2 hours of flight. The pilot was supposed to fly the helicopter for a post maintenance flight check to the end of the runway and then return. The pilot continued to fly the helicopter for about 1 hour until the power loss occurred. Post accident examination by the aviation maintenance technician did not reveal any fuel in the fuel tanks. Fixed base operator personnel that assisted following the accident did not see any fuel spill on the ground surrounding the helicopter. The pilot reported refueling the helicopter about 2 1/2 months prior at his local airport. There were no fueling records on file to indicate that the helicopter had been refueled. Post accident examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any mechanical anomalies or breeches in the fuel system.

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

the pilot's inadequate in-flight planning and failure to refuel the helicopter, which resulted in fuel exhaustion.

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