NTSB Identification: LAX05GA231.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 13, 2005 in Fair Oaks, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Eurocopter France EC120B, registration: N266SD
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The engine experienced an overspeed and catastrophic failure on a law enforcement patrol flight and the helicopter collided with hilly terrain during a subsequent autorotation attempt. Witnesses reported the helicopter began emitting smoke and subsequently descended, impacting terrain near the bottom of a 60-degree sloped hillside. The terrain around the accident site was either steeply sloped hillside with mature trees or bordered by power lines. A post accident examination of the engine and components revealed the constant delta P diaphragm (located in the fuel control unit) had ruptured, resulting in a high and uncontrolled increase of fuel flow to the engine. The power turbine exhibited evidence of a substantial overspeed. All of the turbine blades were separated at their respective shear points. The gas generator turbine exhibited evidence of extreme thermal erosion; the blades were eroded to about 50 percent of their normal height. The centrifugal compressor exhibited evidence of extreme rubbing. A detailed examination of the diaphragm revealed that it had been installed incorrectly (inside-out). The maintenance and engine manufacturer's build records revealed that the diaphragm was last replaced at the engine manufacturer's facilities in France. Recovered Vehicle and Engine Multifunctional Display (VEMD) information supported the evidence of an engine and main rotor revolutions per minute (rpm) exceedance.

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

The failure of the constant delta P diaphragm in the fuel control unit, which resulted in an increased fuel flow and subsequent catastrophic failure of the engine. The diaphragm's failure was the result of improper installation by the engine manufacturer. A factor in the accident was the unsuitable nature of the terrain for a successful autorotation.

Full narrative available

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