NTSB Identification: WPR09LA156
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 19, 2009 in Wendover, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: ENSTROM 280FX, registration: N280AD
Injuries: 2 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 flight instructor stated that during the preflight inspection for the cross-country flight, they did not physically check the fuel level, but relied on the fuel gauge, which indicated about 32 gallons (210 pounds) of fuel, of which 2 gallons were unusable. About 2 hours into the flight, the low fuel pressure light came on and the engine began to sputter and miss. The flight instructor took control of the helicopter and began an autorotation, during which the engine quit. The helicopter subsequently contacted the ground and the main rotor blades struck the tail boom sheering the tail rotor shaft. A Federal Aviation Administration inspector performed a post accident inspection of the helicopter. During the inspection, less than 1 gallon of fuel was noted in both fuel tanks. When power was applied, the low fuel pressure warning light illuminated. After 1 gallon of fuel was added to each fuel tank, the low fuel pressure warning light extinguished and the engine was started. According to the pilot the helicopter used 16.6 to 18.5 gallons per hour at an average ground speed of 100 knots.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, which resulted from an inadequate preflight inspection by both pilots and their failure to ensure that adequate fuel was on board for the flight. Contributing to the accident was the flight instructor's inadequate supervision of the flight.

Full narrative available

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