NTSB Identification: CEN10FA139
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 06, 2010 in Cotulla, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/19/2011
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA II, registration: N922SH
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a safety briefing prior to the flight, the pilot mentioned that he would be operating with a limited amount of fuel so that the two-seat helicopter would be more maneuverable. Witnesses reported observing the pilot add fuel while the helicopter was running between several flights; however, no one recalled the pilot adding fuel before the last flight. The truck-mounted fuel tank that the pilot used to fuel the helicopter did not have a gauge or means to determine how much fuel was being pumped into the helicopter. The pilot was on his sixth flight of the day when the accident occurred. Approximately 10 minutes after the flight departed, several waiting passengers heard what they described as a sound that resembled a lawn mower bogging down in tall grass. The helicopter wreckage was located a short time later. A postaccident investigation showed only residual fuel in each of the helicopter’s two fuel tanks. Neither tank exhibited hydraulic deformation and no significant fuel blight was observed on the surrounding vegetation. The helicopter was being operating at a low altitude that would not allow for a successful autorotation in the event of a loss of engine power. No evidence of mechanical failure of the helicopter structure, flight controls, systems, or engine was found.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot's inadequate fuel planning. Contributing to the accident was the low-altitude operating environment that would not allow for a successful autorotation after the loss of engine power.

Full narrative available

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