NTSB Identification: WPR13CA057
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 27, 2012 in Sheridan, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/13/2013
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N163PJ
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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.

During a Christmas tree harvest, the pilot was repositioning trees from the harvest field onto a truck bed using an 18-foot tag line. He had completed at least five loads before the accident load. During the accident load, the pilot had just released the load onto the truck when he thought the helicopter was encountering a settling with power condition. The pilot maneuvered the helicopter to land on the road in front of the truck. The pilot thought he was clear of the truck; however, the main rotor blades hit the truck just above the cab. The helicopter impacted the ground and the main rotor blades struck and separated the tailboom from the fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter or engine that would have precluded normal operations.

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

The pilot’s failure to prevent the helicopter from entering a vortex ring state (settling with power) condition during an external load operation, which resulted in the helicopter’s main rotor blades impacting the truck.

Full narrative available

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