NTSB Identification: CEN09CA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Harlingen, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2009
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N2560Q
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
After landing the helicopter, the pilot set the cyclic and collective friction locks and left the helicopter "running" while he and his passenger disembarked the helicopter. After being left unattended for about two minutes, the helicopter began to lift-off and subsequently impacted terrain resulting in substantial damage. The pilot reported that the friction locks were still found engaged after the helicopter impacted the terrain. Winds in the vicinity of the accident were from the southeast at 21 gusting to 30 knots. According to the manufacturer, the cyclic and collective frictions are designed to allow the pilot to remove their hands from the controls to perform the cockpit portion of the preflight and post flight operations. A "caution" in the manufacturer's pilot operating handbook states, "Never leave helicopter flight controls unattended while engine is running." In addition the pilot operating handbook has a safety notice issued November 1984, which states, "Never exit helicopter with engine running. Several accidents have occurred when pilot momentarily left their helicopters unattended with the engine running and rotors turning. The collective can creep up, increasing both pitch and throttle, allowing the helicopter to lift off or roll out of control."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's decision to leave the helicopter unattended with the engine running in gusty wind conditions. Full narrative available
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