NTSB Identification: CHI08FA269
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 2008 in Greensburg, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/27/2011
Aircraft: BELL 206L-1, registration: N37AE
Injuries: 3 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.

The emergency medical services crew had attended a local fundraising event and was returning to the helicopter/crew base when the accident occurred. Witnesses reported that the helicopter made a normal departure. They subsequently reported seeing components separate from the helicopter before it descended and impacted the ground. The helicopter came to rest in a corn field approximately 1.2 miles from the departure point. A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that an 8-foot section of one of the main rotor blades separated in-flight rendering the helicopter uncontrollable. Metallurgical examination determined that the blade failed as a result of fatigue cracking. The origin of the fatigue crack coincided with a large void between the blade spar and an internal lead weight. Further investigation determined that the presence of residual stresses in the spar from the manufacturing process, in combination with excessive voids between the spar and the lead weight, likely resulted in the fatigue failure of the blade. The manufacturer issued an alert service bulletin that identified main rotor blades that may have been affected by the combination of residual stresses and excessive voids between the spar and the lead weight. The service bulletin also called for supplemental inspections in order to maintain the continued airworthiness of the affected blades.

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

The in-flight separation of a main rotor blade due to a fatigue failure of the blade spar, rendering the helicopter uncontrollable, and the manufacturer's production of main rotor blades with latent manufacturing defects, which precipitated the fatigue failure of the blade spar.

Full narrative available

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