NTSB Identification: DFW05CA169.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 19, 2005 in Rayville, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N744MD
Injuries: 4 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.

The 597-hour private pilot was departing on his third flight to the north. Immediately after take-off the helicopter spun to the right and the low rotor rpm warning sounded. The pilot stated "that as soon as the right yaw was felt, left rudder was applied but had no effect". At about 20 feet above the ground, the pilot entered an autorotation. The pilot further stated that, " evidently, I flared too much and the tail boom struck the ground". After the rotor stopped, the pilot and three passengers exited the helicopter. The FAA Rotorcraft Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21), page 11-10, states, "Under certain conditions of high weight, high temperature, or high density altitude, you might get into a situation where the (rotor) rpm is low even though you are using maximum throttle". The handbook continues, " since the tail rotor is geared to the main rotor, low main rotor rpm may prevent the tail rotor from producing enough thrust to maintain directional control". There was no mechanical deficiencies prior to the accident. The NTSB Investigator in Charge calculated the density altitude at 2,033 feet, and the take-off weight to be within 100 pounds of the helicopters maximum certified weight.


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

The pilot's loss of control following an encounter with loss of tail rotor effectiveness. A contributing factor was the high density altitude.

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