NTSB Identification: WPR13CA071
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 07, 2012 in Pasadena, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: HUGHES 369, registration: N818CE
Injuries: 1 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.

Prior to the flight, the doors were removed in order to make it easier for the passengers to board and exit the helicopter. During the safety briefing, the pilot took a headset from a pouch in the rear of the helicopter, demonstrated how to wear the headsets, and then replaced it. The pilot did not tell the passengers that the headsets needed to be replaced in the pouch after landing and before exiting the helicopter. Additionally, the pilot did not make the passengers aware of the danger associated with loose headsets in the back of the helicopter in a doors-off configuration.

After the two passengers were transported to a work site location, the right rear passenger exited the helicopter and placed the headset on the hook located behind the front seats. After departing the site, about 3 to 5 minutes later while en route at an elevation of about 1,000 feet above ground level, the pilot felt something strike the helicopter. After landing and upon inspecting the helicopter, the pilot discovered that the right rear headset was missing and that the leading edge of the tail rotor had been damaged. Upon further inspection of the helicopter, the operator reported that the tail rotor drive shaft was found to be slightly egg shaped at its aft end.

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

An unsecured headset, which struck the leading edge of a tail rotor blade. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate safety briefing.

Full narrative available

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