NTSB Identification: ERA12FA563
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 15, 2012 in West Windsor, NJ
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS 355F1, registration: N58020
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On September 15, 2012, about 1200 eastern daylight time, an Aerospatiale AS 355F1, N58020, operated by Analar Corporation, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following an in-flight separation near West Windsor, New Jersey. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey. The flight originated from Princeton Airport (39N), Princeton, New Jersey, about 1155.
According to the president of the company that operated the aircraft, the helicopter had flown during the summer with a loaner transmission, after its transmission was removed for repair on June 4, 2012. After the repair was complete, the helicopter's original transmission was received and then reinstalled on September 13, 2012. After the installation, the president, who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic, conducted a maintenance ground run, followed by a 30-minute maintenance test flight, with no anomalies noted. Earlier during the day of the accident, the accident pilot flew the helicopter from 39N to the West 30th Street Heliport (JRA), New York, New York, where he picked up a passenger and returned to N39 uneventfully. The helicopter was completely fueled and then departed on the next flight segment (accident flight) with the intent to pick up another passenger at ACY. The president estimated that the helicopter had flown approximately 1 hour 10 minutes since the installation of the transmission.
According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration, the helicopter was in radio and radar contact with McGuire Approach Control. Radio and radar contact was lost about 1200 and no distress calls were received. Witnesses near the area of the accident site reported hearing a grinding, pop, or engine rev noise. Witnesses also reported seeing something separating from the helicopter and the helicopter spiraling nose down toward the ground. One witness reported observing a flock of small birds strike the right side of the helicopter, just prior to the upset.
The helicopter came to rest upright, on a magnetic heading of 305 degrees. A postcrash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit and cabin. A significant portion of the transmission was also consumed; however, the steel gears were recovered. The rotorhead had separated and was located about 100 yards south of the main wreckage. The rotorhead included the top portion of transmission (epicyclic), the starflex, and the red and blue main rotor blades with their respective sleeves and spherical thrust bearings attached. Also included were three servos and three pitch change links. The entire yellow main rotor blade had separated from the rotorhead and was later recovered about 270 yards southeast of the main wreckage.
The following components were retained for further examination: rotorhead with the upper transmission section (epicyclic); starflex; remaining gears of lower transmission; tailrotor drive shaft coupling; thomas coupling; combining gearbox gears and input pinion to the main gearbox; oil pump and shaft; yellow blade sleeve and both engines.
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