NTSB Identification: CEN10CA138
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 04, 2010 in Goshen, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/01/2010
Aircraft: ENSTROM 280FX, registration: N327TB
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 helicopter had undergone an annual inspection and was preflighted and flown by the pilot for a maintenance test flight. The pilot did not check the right fuel tank level during that preflight. On the following day, the pilot and another pilot seated in the right seat departed on another maintenance test flight without visually checking the fuel level in either fuel tank. They instead relied on fuel consumption calculations based upon previous flight time and fuel gauge indications. After about 42 minutes of flight time, the helicopter experienced a total loss of engine power while being piloted by the left-seat pilot. The right-seat pilot then took the controls and performed an autorotation but had to maneuver to change the touchdown point in order to avoid power lines. The helicopter then experienced a hard landing. Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that there was about one cup of fuel in the left fuel tank and no fuel in the right fuel tank. Postaccident inspection revealed that an electrical connector from the right fuel tank sending unit was found disconnected, which would have given a false "full" indication of fuel quantity.

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

The inadequate preflight inspection by both pilots, resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the accident was the disconnected fuel tank sending unit.

Full narrative available

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