NTSB Identification: WPR10LA481
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, September 30, 2010 in Meadview, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/15/2012
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC130, registration: N822MH
Injuries: 7 Uninjured.

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 aerial tour flight included a stop at a pre-selected remote landing site. The remote site was equipped with picnic tables and umbrellas for use by the passengers. According to the pilot, this was his third flight of the day, and he landed "closer than usual" to the tables. After the stop, the pilot started the helicopter and picked up into a low hover. He remained in the hover and turned the helicopter to the right in order to slightly delay his departure for another departing helicopter. In close sequence, the pilot noticed a rotor rpm decrease, a loss of tail rotor effectiveness, and a "loud bang" after which he immediately re-landed and shutdown the helicopter. An inspection revealed that the cloth canopy of one of the umbrellas had been partially ingested by the tail rotor, which resulted in substantial damage to the tail rotor, rotor housing, and drive system. The pilot did not report any preaccident problems with the helicopter, and no pre-existing mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation were observed. Neither the helicopter manufacturer nor the operator provided specific information or recommended guidance regarding operational clearances for the helicopter. The site had no designated or marked landing zones. Pilots were wholly responsible for ensuring the adequacy of the site for their arrivals and departures, as well as for separation from other helicopters in the heavily trafficked area. Although the pilot reported that fatigue was a contributing factor to the accident, there was insufficient evidence to determine whether the pilot was fatigued.

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

The pilot's distraction with another departing helicopter while maneuvering in a hover for departure, which resulted in his failure to maintain clearance between the tail rotor and an umbrella.

Full narrative available

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