NTSB Identification: ERA13IA313
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Sunday, June 30, 2013 in New York, NY
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON CANADA 206L-4, registration: N405MR
Injuries: 5 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 used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

On June 30, 2013, about 1155 eastern daylight time, a Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 206L-4, N405MR, operated by New York City Helicopter Charter, Inc., incurred minor damage after an engine failure and subsequent forced landing to the Hudson River in New York, New York. The commercial pilot and four passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed Downtown Manhattan/Wall Street Heliport (JRB), New York, New York, about 10 minutes earlier. The local sightseeing flight was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he had flown seven previous segments that day in the incident helicopter, with most of those under 20 minutes and the last segment being a trip to JRB after obtaining fuel in New Jersey. After landing at JRB, the pilot met the four passengers and provided them a safety briefing.

The helicopter subsequently took off and headed northbound along a standard company tour route. Approaching the 79th Street Boat Basin, at 1,500 feet, the pilot heard a “bang” and a passenger asked if the helicopter had hit a bird. The pilot answered no, then heard the “Engine Out” warning and saw that the N2 [power turbine] indication was dropping. The pilot decided to perform an autorotation, and just prior to lowering the collective and rolling the throttle to flight idle, he saw the “Engine Chip” light illuminate.

The pilot advised the passengers that they were “going down” and transmitted a Mayday call to LaGuardia Tower. During the flare, the pilot deployed the skid-mounted floats and bled off all forward airspeed. Following impact, the chin bubbles broke and water rushed into the cabin.

Once the helicopter came to rest, the pilot verified that all of the passengers were safe, confirmed same with LaGuardia Tower, secured all switches and circuit breakers, and helped the passengers to board a boat before boarding another one himself for the trip to shore.

According to the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the turbine section of the Rolls Royce 250-C30P engine had been recently overhauled, and the engine was returned to service with about 2 hours of operation prior to the incident.
The inspector also stated that following the incident, the helicopter was transported to JRB, where an initial examination was performed. He further noted that with power applied from the battery, the Engine Chip light illuminated. In addition, the starter would not rotate the engine, the compressor section was difficult to turn by hand, the turbine section rotated freely, and the chip detector was caked with carbon and small metal specks. Fuel samples taken at the helicopter’s last refueling stop were also found to be clear, free of water and "within specifications.”

The engine was subsequently removed from the helicopter and transported to the overhaul facility where it was further examined under NTSB oversight. During the examination, in the compressor section, the engine number 2 bearing was found to be damaged, and appeared dry with evidence of high temperatures. The corresponding races also appeared dry with evidence of high temperatures. The forward side of the bearing cage exhibited significantly more damage than the aft side, with the forward side bearing cage deformed and the bearing balls on that side appearing rough, with large areas of material loss.

To confirm oil flow, the engine gearbox was attached to an oil supply and the engine oil pump was rotated by means of a hand drill. Three of the four jets from the oil supply tube (piccolo tube) produced streams of oil; however, the fourth, which normally supplied oil to the aft face of the number 2 bearing, did not.

The piccolo tube, number 2 bearing and several associated parts were retained for further examination.

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