NTSB Identification: DFW08IA002
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Incident occurred Saturday, October 06, 2007 in Galveston, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/24/2008
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON 206L-1, registration: N3899C
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

The pilot reported that as the helicopter was accelerating through 40 to 50 knots in a slight climb, while still only about 200 feet away from the departed offshore platform, he felt and heard a "loud bang" as the tail of the helicopter yawed to the right. He added that the helicopter started to descend and he made a mayday call as he prepared for the water landing. The helicopter touched down in a nose high attitude, and the tail rotor system was reported to have contacted the water. The emergency flotation system deployed successfully and the helicopter and the passengers reported that the helicopter made a smooth water landing. A detailed follow-up engine examination was conducted at the operator's maintenance facilities. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of distress or failure observed on any of the components of the compressor, engine gearbox, or turbine assemblies that might have accounted for the loud bang reported by the pilot and the passengers during the accident sequence. Additionally, no unresolved engine-related discrepancies were found in the examined aircraft or engine records. The operator reported that a section of a tail rotor blade was found on a beach miles from the site. The blade was verified to be from the accident helicopter. The portion of the tail rotor blade was forwarded to a lab, where further examination revealed marks on the leading edge of the blade. The marks extended approximately thirteen inches from the tip of the blade and appeared to be evenly spaced. The fracture appeared to be the result of overload. The transferred material was confirmed not to be from any part of the helicopter. The analysis of the material revealed that it was possibly the metal bindings of a notebook. The suspected 3-ring binder was not located and none of the 3 occupants of the helicopter reported losing a 3-ring binder. The manager of the offshore helideck reported that there were no lose objects of any type at the helideck and FOD sweeps are made on a routine basis. The source of the missing binder could not be established.

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

The loss of tail rotor control during initial takeoff climb due to the fracture of a tail rotor blade as result of impact with a foreign object.

Full narrative available

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