NTSB Identification: CHI06FA128.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 13, 2006 in East Troy, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/2007
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N442GS
Injuries: 4 Serious,1 Minor.

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.

The helicopter was damaged when it struck a pole adjacent to a hangar during takeoff. The helicopter was configured to seat four occupants with four seatbelts. There were five occupants on-board at the time of the accident, and a 2 year, 8 month old child, who was not seat belted, was ejected from the helicopter. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require that all occupants that have reached their second birthday wear a seat belt during takeoff, landing and ground movement of an aircraft. The pilot reported that he started to lift off to a hover and the helicopter "bolted forward." He stated that he attempted to stop the forward movement and at the same time tried to avoid the hangar and the "weather pole" by the hangar. No anomalies were found with regard to the helicopter or its systems. The pilot informed the National Transportation Safety board investigator that he did not calculate the center of gravity, and only calculated the weight prior to flight. Separate center of gravity calculations were performed using passenger weights as understood by the pilot and actual passenger weights obtained during the investigation. The center of gravity was found to be 2.4 inches and 2.9 inches forward of the forward limit respectively by each calculation using these weights. In addition, the takeoff gross weight was found to be 57 pounds over the maximum gross weight limit using the actual passenger weights. The Federal Aviation Administration Rotorcraft Flying Handbook states that a forward center of gravity can be recognized when coming to a hover by a nose low attitude and excessive rearward displacement of the cyclic control to maintain hover. The handbook further states that further flight should not be continued when this condition exists. A video of the accident taken by a witness on the ground does not show a hover prior to forward movement, nor does it show an attempt to abort the takeoff.

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

The pilot's failure to calculate the weight and balance of the helicopter prior to flight, his failure to recognize and correct the forward center of gravity condition and his failure to abort the takeoff. A factors was the pilot's improper decision to conduct the flight without seatbelts available for all passengers.

Full narrative available

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