NTSB Identification: DEN07LA024.
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Accident occurred Monday, November 13, 2006 in Melrose, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/26/2007
Aircraft: Bell UH-1H, registration: N24CF
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 helicopter was in cruise flight approximately 600 feet agl (above ground level) when it experienced "moderate to heavy" vibration. The pilot said he knew the tail rotor had failed because the anti-torque pedals would go to the floor with no effect. He also knew the tail rotor had failed when he attempted to make a run-on landing. As they got nearer to the ground, the check pilot "got on the controls" and would not relinquish them. The check pilot pulled back on the cyclic and slowed the helicopter, which immediately started "spinning violently to the right." The pilot-in-command "slammed the collective down" in an attempt to hit the ground hard and turn the helicopter over and stop it from spinning. He tried to roll off the throttle (which is the proper procedure for loss of tail rotor thrust in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook), but the check pilot was on the controls and he could not override him. The pilot-in-command turned off the main fuel control in an attempt to shut down the engine and stop the helicopter from spinning. The helicopter impacted terrain and rolled over on its side. Examination of the helicopter revealed both tail rotor blades were missing. The 90-degree gearbox was still attached and the tail rotor drive shaft showed no damage. Despite an extensive search, the tail rotor blades were not recovered. No other anomalies were found.

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

the in-flight failure and separation of both tail rotor blades. Contributing factors in this accident were the check pilot interferring with the controls and his failure to relinquish control to the pilot-in-command.

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