NTSB Identification: CEN12LA359
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 09, 2012 in Santa Teresa, NM
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N744JS
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.
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 9, 2012, approximately 1900 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N744JS, registered to S M Hentges & Sons of Jordan, Minnesota, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain after a loss of lift during takeoff/initial climb from the Dona Ana County Airport (5T6), Santa Teresa, New Mexico. The private pilot and his 2 pilot rated passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and a flight plan was not filed. The personal cross country flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight's intended destination for this leg of the trip was Roswell, New Mexico.
The helicopter had just been refueled at Santa Teresa after an uneventful flight leg from Chino, California. The certified flight instructor (CFI) rated passenger reported that the helicopter was about 76 pounds under its maximum gross weight after refueling. He stated that the density altitude was about 6,800 feet, with wind of 210 to 260 degrees at 10 to 18 knots at the time of takeoff. The pilot lifted the helicopter into a 2-foot hover and departed into the wind. The helicopter entered translational lift, accelerated to approximately 30 to 35 knots, and 10 to 20 feet of altitude. The helicopter then started to settle slightly, and the low RPM warning light and horn come on. The CFI then came on the controls and stated that he had the helicopter. In an attempt to recover the low main rotor RPM, he slightly lowered the collective, while rolling the throttle on and adding slight aft cyclic.
The CFI stated that he was unable to increase the main rotor RPM enough to maintain flight, so he tried to land under control rather than continue to an uncontrolled crash. He made a cyclic flare to reduce the airspeed as much as possible, but due to the low main rotor RPM, low altitude, and low airspeed, was only able to slow the helicopter to about 15 to 20 knots, before leveling the helicopter and touching down.
The helicopter touched down in rough terrain, (gravel, sand, sage brush, small mounds of dirt). The skids broke off when striking a mound of dirt, then the helicopter pitched forward. The main rotor struck the ground breaking off and the tail boom was severed. The helicopter spun slightly right, struck a mound of dirt and rolled onto its left side. From initial touchdown to final point of rest was about 75 to 80 feet. The helicopter was secured, fuel, mixture, battery switch, and the 3 occupants evacuated.
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