NTSB Identification: ERA11IA320
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Sunday, May 29, 2011 in Redding, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/2012
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

The pilot stated that he felt an abnormal vibration in the helicopter during cruise flight. He performed a precautionary landing to residential driveway. Postincident examination revealed that the tail rotor teeter hinge bolt had fractured completely due to fatigue and that there was no torque stripe on the bolt to help identify possible movement. The manufacturer’s preflight inspection checklist required the pilot to verify that the tail rotor teeter hinge bolt does not rotate. When asked about preflight inspections, the pilot stated that he does not always use the manufacturer's preflight checklist. Maintenance records show that the most recent annual inspection was performed about 4 weeks before the incident. According to the manufacturer's maintenance procedures, during an annual inspection, a mechanic should verify that the tail rotor teeter hinge bolt remains stationary when teetering the hub. Also, it is recommended that a mechanic applies a torque stripe to the bolt. In addition, the maintenance manual contained an unboxed warning message about the importance of the correct installation of the tail rotor to prevent a failure of the teeter hinge bolt and loss of the tail rotor.

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

The pilot's inadequate helicopter preflight inspection and the mechanic’s inadequate annual inspection, both of which failed to detect a worn bolt in the tail rotor teeter hinge prior to its fracture due to fatigue.

Full narrative available

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