NTSB Identification: WPR09CA220
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Arvin, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2009
Aircraft: BELL OH-58A, registration: N175SJ
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.

The pilot was on the last local aerial application flight of the day. Prior to starting the job, he flew above and around the field to check for obstructions and power lines. The field had numerous electrical feeder wires, with north-south power lines on the west and east ends of the 1/2-mile-long field. This application required the material be applied while making east-west passes above the feeder wires and oil pumps. Upon maneuvering onto the last eastbound pass, he applied aft cyclic to climb above the location of feeder wires. Several seconds later, he felt a sudden jarring and vibration emitting from the rear portion of the helicopter. He felt that he had possibly struck a wire that he did not see, and continued flying the helicopter in an eastbound direction to perform an emergency landing. As he began slowing, the front of the helicopter began yawing to the right in a southeast direction and it was headed towards a triple strand of east-west power lines and a small oil pump 25 feet south of the electrical lines. In anticipation of a second wire strike, he closed the throttle and began an autorotation prior to the helicopter striking the east-west power lines. It came to rest in an upright position facing in a southwest direction. He could hear the engine operating and performed emergency engine shutdown procedures. Visual examination revealed that the tail rotor made contact with the first set of power lines and separated along with its gearbox. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades and fuselage after the second contact.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from wires during aerial application maneuvers.

Full narrative available

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