NTSB Identification: NYC08LA052
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 04, 2007 in Gainesville, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/06/2009
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N70035
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot of the helicopter was under flight instruction to add a rotorcraft rating to his certificate and was on a solo cross-country flight. The helicopter had been in cruise flight for about 1 hour and 20 minutes when the pilot noticed an intermittent illumination of the "clutch light" and perceived a loss of altitude. The pilot "reset the circuit breaker" and increased collective to regain the lost altitude. He then perceived a loss of rotor rpm and slowly and continuously lowered the collective to maintain the rotor rpm in the normal operating range. When the helicopter reached approximately 150 feet above ground level, the pilot could no longer maintain rotor rpm and entered autorotation. During the descent, he selected an empty parking lot for a landing, where the helicopter landed hard, bounced, and then rolled over onto its side. He added that the engine was running before and after ground contact, and he did not report any deficiencies in the handling characteristics of the helicopter. Functional testing of the clutch assembly revealed that the rigging and operation of the assembly were within factory specifications, but the engagement cycle time exceeded the factory limit. The pilot stated that he "reset" the circuit breaker, and continued to adjust the collective pitch to regain altitude and rotor rpm. The emergency procedure listed in the Pilot's Operating Handbook directed the pilot to "pull" the clutch circuit breaker and land immediately.

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

The pilot's failure to follow the published emergency procedure. Contributing to the accident was a malfunction of the clutch assembly.

Full narrative available

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