NTSB Identification: LAX05LA176.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 16, 2005 in Kihei, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N611WA
Injuries: 4 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 pilot performed an autorotation to a rocky shoreline following a partial loss of engine power during cruise flight. The helicopter's tail rotor blades impacted the ground when the helicopter slid aft on the slippery rocks following a successful landing. Post accident examination of the helicopter revealed the fuel system had been contaminated. Two days prior to the accident flight, the helicopter was examined after a fuel sample was found contaminated; however, the entire fuel system, specifically, the fuel tank, was not examined and cleaned. According to the manufacturer, if the helicopter experiences a fuel contamination, the corrective action is to "inspect and clean the fuel cell and start pump inlet screens if large amounts of foreign material are found in the engine driven fuel pump filter (or the optional airframe fuel filter if installed)." The accident helicopter was not equipped with the optional airframe fuel filter. Following the accident, the fuel tank cells were examined and contamination was noted in the tank and the fuel pump inlet screen and outlet. The contaminated fuel was introduced to the fuel system 2 days prior to the accident. The fuel came from a remotely located fuel tank that had a broken fuel tank cover, which allowed water and contaminants to enter the tank. The person who fueled the helicopter from the contaminated tank was not trained in the company's policy to conduct a daily quality assurance check, and had not sumped the tank, filters, and hoses.

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

the partial loss of engine power due to fuel contamination. The fuel contamination was due to the failure of the maintenance personnel to ensure that the helicopter's fuel system had been thoroughly cleaned after a known previous contamination event, and the failure of company line personnel to follow the daily quality assurance checks on the company's remote based fuel supply.

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