NTSB Identification: CHI06FA109.
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Accident occurred Thursday, April 13, 2006 in Chelsea, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2007
Aircraft: Robinson R22 Beta, registration: N887BC
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
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 aircraft accident report.
A private pilot was operating the helicopter as a local personal flight when it collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing. Witnesses related that the helicopter appeared to lose power, as if it ran out of gas, and that it came down fast, toward a road. The helicopter subsequently struck trees and terrain. An on-scene inspection disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies with either the flight controls or engine. Fuel samples were collected from the helicopter's carburetor and fuel tanks. Analysis disclosed water in the carburetor fuel, but none in the fuel tanks. A fuel sample was also taken from the pilot's storage tank at his residence, which was under a building without rain gutters. The fuel from the storage tank had a layer of water and sediment. Detailed analysis of the water and sediment found in the carburetor fuel indicated that the contamination was consistent with run-off from a building's roof. The helicopter's engine was provided fresh fuel and operated successfully. During the investigation, an aviation mechanic related that about two weeks before the accident, the pilot had lost one of the helicopter's fuel caps, and had obtained a replacement cap.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection of the helicopter that failed to discover water in the fuel, resulting in a loss of engine power while maneuvering, and an in-flight collision with trees and terrain. Factors associated with the accident were inadequate fuel storage, and the low altitude of the helicopter.
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