NTSB Identification: ERA12CA179
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 13, 2012 in N. Charleston, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2012
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N5511L
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 certified flight instructor (CFI) reported that, after takeoff, the student pilot practiced hovering maneuvers then practiced a straight-in autorotation with a planned power recovery. The student pilot initiated the autorotation between 300 and 400 feet above the ground with a 5- to 6-knot tailwind. During the descent, the helicopter descended faster than anticipated, and, although the student pilot initiated a flare to arrest the descent, by that point, the helicopter was too low and still descending too fast. Just before the skids hit a mound of dirt and rock that was about 6- to 8-feet tall, the CFI took the controls but was unable to arrest the descent. The CFI did not apply power but attempted to back off the mound and turn around. Because the engine was at idle power and the rotor rpm was decreasing, the helicopter spun and came to rest on its left side. The CFI reported that there was no preimpact mechanic failure or malfunction. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom and also to the right side of the helicopter in the area of the right aft skid.

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

The flight instructor’s failure to apply power during a practice autorotation in order to arrest a high rate of descent, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain.

Full narrative available

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