NTSB Identification: ERA12LA379
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 04, 2012 in Indiantown, FL
Aircraft: BELL 427, registration: N427AL
Injuries: 5 Minor.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On June 4, 2012, about 0955, eastern daylight time, a Bell 427 helicopter, N427AL, registered to Southern Aviation Systems, LLC., and operated by an individual, experience an inflight bird strike, main rotor vibration, and a hard landing near Indiantown, Florida. The private-rated pilot, commercial-rated co-pilot, and 3 passengers received minor injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, business flight. The flight originated from the Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), West Palm Beach, Florida, about 0930.
The pilot stated they departed PBI for a destination of Ocala, Florida. Approximately 25 minutes into the flight, while on a heading of 330-degrees and at an altitude of 800 feet mean sea level (msl), he maneuvered the helicopter to avoid colliding with several large birds. The pilot felt something impact the upper right side of the helicopter near the main rotor mast area. Immediately following the impact, the helicopter started shaking violently, and became difficult to control. The pilot elected to land in an open field. Descending through 300 feet msl, the shaking became more pronounce and the helicopter became uncontrollable. About 50 feet msl, the aircraft went into a spin and impacted the ground hard and rolled over on its left side. All onboard were able to exit the helicopter on their own.
Postaccident inspection of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector and a representative of the aircraft manufacturer revealed evidence of bird remains on components of the rotor head and on 2 of the 4 pitch change rods. The 2 pitch change rods with bird remains were separated from one of their attach points. The bird remains were removed and are being sent to the Smithsonian for bird identification.
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