NTSB Identification: CEN09LA324
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Saturday, May 30, 2009 in Kyle, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/07/2011
Aircraft: BELL 47G, registration: N4823
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was belted in the left pilot seat with the helicopter’s engine and rotor system operating at ground idle. The ground crewmember was attempting to “hot refuel” the helicopter’s left fuel tank when he noticed that fuel was not flowing from the nozzle. The ground crewmember removed the nozzle from the fuel tank and placed it on the running helicopter’s chemical tank. The ground crewmember then dismounted from the helicopter and went to a kinked portion of the refueling hose. As he straightened the kinked hose, the nozzle immediately began spraying gasoline on the engine and the pilot before subsequently igniting. Fuel spray from the nozzle continued for several seconds and then stopped. The pilot exited the helicopter unassisted and extinguished the flames by slapping his body and arms with his hands. The ground crewmember assisted by pouring water on the seriously injured pilot and then calling for help. A fire extinguisher was not installed on either the helicopter or the refueling truck, and no attempts were made to extinguish the fire on the helicopter until emergency response firefighters arrived on scene.

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

The ground crewmember's failure to assure that the fuel nozzle was closed before pressurizing the line. Contributing to the accident was the lack of an available fire extinguisher.

Full narrative available

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