NTSB Identification: CEN12TA004
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 04, 2011 in McAllen, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/11/2012
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC120B, registration: N3925A
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

The pilot and the supplemental crewmember were dispatched to provide aerial support for an on-going border patrol mission. The mission was delayed, so the pilot decided to make a no-hover landing to an unfamiliar grass field and sit idle (to conserve fuel) until needed. On approach, the pilot had too much forward speed for the no-hover landing and transitioned to a slow, running landing. Upon touchdown, the pilot said he used full aft cyclic to control the maneuver but did not remember what he did with the collective. The helicopter slid about 34 feet then pitched forward causing the helicopter's lower wire strike protection system and the main rotor blades to strike the ground. According to the operator's aircraft standardization manual, during a running landing, the pilot has to hold the collective stationary after ground contact to avoid any rapid pitch reductions. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical problems prior to the accident. He said the accident could have been avoided if he had conducted an approach to hover followed by a vertical landing or executed a go-around and re-attempted a no-hover landing.

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

The pilot's improper use of the collective while landing, which resulted in an unrecoverable forward pitching moment. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's improper decision not to go-around.

Full narrative available

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