NTSB Identification: CEN11CA540
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 02, 2011 in Charles City, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/17/2011
Aircraft: BELL 47G-2, registration: N4771N
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 operator reported that prior to the accident flight the pilot was distracted during a refueling operation. The distraction involved ground personnel entering the helicopter cabin after landing to discuss the next spraying operation with the pilot. After the conversation, the pilot departed without refueling the helicopter. While completing an aerial application, the engine experienced a loss of engine power. The pilot initiated an autorotation, during which the helicopter impacted terrain. A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed the tail boom was partially separated and the landing gear skids were bent. The operator reported that approximately 3.5 quarts of fuel were drained from the fuel tanks, and 2 gallons of fuel were considered unusable.

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

The pilot's failure to refuel the helicopter which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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