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On January 15, 1994, about 2330 eastern standard time, a Hughes 269C, N8994F, was substantially damaged following a collision with terrain near Atlanta, Georgia. The commercial pilot received serious injuries in the accident. The aircraft was being operated under 14 CFR Part 91 by the City of Atlanta Police Department. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local aerial observation flight. The flight departed the Fulton County Airport about 2320.
Personnel employed by the operator stated that the aircraft heater had been reinstalled in the aircraft the day prior to the accident. The heater had been removed to reduce weight for summer operations with the helicopter.
The pilot reported that he was making a local flight in the airport area. He stated that, after departing the airport traffic area to the east, the aircraft engine lost power and he was forced to execute an emergency landing. A forced landing was attempted in a cemetery five miles east of the airport. The pilot reported that during the descent, he observed the rotor revolutions per minute (RPM) to be below the red line on the RPM gauge and decreasing. The aircraft was substantially damaged during the forced landing.
The pilot holds a commercial pilot certificate with helicopter, instrument helicopter, and private privileges airplane single engine land ratings. He holds a second class medical certificate with no restrictions.
The pilot has logged a total of 1600 flight hours in helicopters, and 648 flight hours in the Hughes 269C.
Additional personnel information may be obtained on page 3 of this report under section titled First Pilot Information.
The Hughes 269C helicopter is a three place utility helicopter. It is powered by a Lycoming HIO-360-D1A 190 horsepower engine.
The helicopter was being used for aerial observation and surveillance operations by the City of Atlanta Police Department. It was equipped with search lights and forward looking infrared night surveillance equipment. Due to the weight of this equipment, the aircraft heater was removed during the summer months to reduce the aircraft weight. The heater had been reinstalled in the aircraft the day prior to the accident.
The aircraft engine had a total of 3 hours in service at the time of the accident. All checks of the aircraft engine after installation had been within normal limits, and no report of engine malfunction had been reported prior to this flight.
Additional aircraft information may be obtained on page 2 of this report under section titled Aircraft Information.
The aircraft wreckage was located in a cemetery approximately 5 miles east of the airport. The aircraft impacted the terrain with the right skid on the sod, and the left skid on the paved street. There were no ground scars or skid marks located in the sod or on the pavement. The aircraft came to rest in an approximately 70 degree list on its right side, on a heading of approximately 140 degrees.
Examination of the instrument console revealed the following: The cyclic trim switch was in the pilot position. The mixture control was in the full rich (in) position. The mags were selected to the both position. All aircraft interior and exterior light switches were selected to on. The rotor engage switch was in the engage position and the toggle safety cover was in place. The battery, generator, electric fuel pump, and radio master switches were all in the on position. The throttle was found approximately two thirds open. The aircraft heater control was in the off (pushed in) position. The fuel shutoff control was in the shut off (pulled out) position.
The pilot stated that he did not attempt to use the aircraft heater during the flight. He also stated that he did not pull the fuel shutoff lever to the closed position after the accident. Rescue and fire personnel stated that they did not pull the fuel shutoff valve to the closed position.
Both aircraft skid assemblies had numerous fractures. There was extensive crush damage below water level(WL) 0, and above WL 0 into the engine basket. The tailboom was fractured at the station 173 cluster fitting. The struts remained attached to the tailboom at the center fitting. There was some crush damage to the right fuel tank pan and right door.
All three main rotor blades had pitch case impacts on the main rotor drive shaft retaining bolts, and fractured droop stop rings. They remained attached to the hub, and none of the blades had significant damage to the root ends.
The red main rotor blade had little lead/lag bending and slight trailing edge compression buckles. Some slight flap-wise bending was observed on the outer one third of the span length.
The blue main rotor blade exhibited some tip impact, with lag bending along the outer one third of the span length. There was trailing edge compression buckling, and some upward flapwise bending observed.
The yellow main rotor blade exhibited extensive tip damage, lead/lag bending, and trailing edge compression buckling. The blade damper was pulled out of the damper assembly.
The cyclic and collective controls were still intact and functional. The directional control pedals, bellcranks, and cables were intact and functional. The tail rotor control tube was fractured at station 137, but was intact through the tailboom to the tail rotor swashplate.
The tail rotor gearbox bellcrank was intact, and the swashplate was in place and functional. The tail rotor pitch links were still attached and functional.
Both tail rotor blades were still attached to the tail rotor hub and fork assembly. They both exhibited minor blade tip damage, and both blades were fractured at the end of the hub assembly.
The main rotor head turned freely in both directions. All three main rotor pitch bearing assembly cases had impact marks on their upper face. Each of the flapping stops on the droop stop rings were fractured.
The main rotor transmission turned freely in both directions, and the main rotor drive shaft was intact and still attached to the main rotor head assembly.
The overrunning (sprag) clutch in the upper assembly functioned properly in both directions. All eight "V" belts were still on the pulleys, and appeared to be in serviceable condition. The idler pulley assembly was intact and functioned properly. The clutch assembly was intact and in the engaged position. The electric linear actuator was not damaged and operated in both directions.
The lower coupling drive shaft was still engaged with the engine coupling, and would not allow the pulley to turn. After the drive shaft was removed, the pulley turned freely. The engine coupling appeared to be undamaged.
Both fuel tanks had approximately one half tank of fuel remaining in the tank. There was minor impact damage to the left fuel tank drain valve. The fuel shutoff valve was in the closed position. The fuel shutoff valve cable was intact from the control to the valve. Operation of the fuel shutoff valve was normal and unrestricted. All fuel lines were intact and there was no rupture of the fuel lines or tanks.
The electric fuel pump was intact and had some fuel in the outlet. The fuel was tested for water with negative(no water found) results. An operational test of the pump showed the pump was functional.
The fuel filter and engine driven fuel pump were intact, and had fuel remaining inside. A test of the fuel from these items was negative for the presence of water. The fuel filter was clean and showed no sign of contamination. The fuel servo screen was clean and showed no signs of contamination.
The aircraft engine was removed and shipped for further testing and evaluation at the Lycoming Facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
No medical or pathological information was obtained from the pilot.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A test run of the engine was performed at the Lycoming Plant in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1994. Prior to the test run, the numbers one, two, and three intake pipes had to be replaced as a result of impact damage during the accident. The number three spark plug lead had to be repaired at the end of the lead due to damage sustained in the accident.
The engine was mounted in a test facility. The engine started easily and performed within specification limits for a new engine.(See Report of Engine Test including test log by Lycoming attached to this report.)
The aircraft was released to Sergeant Robert T. Ingram of the Atlanta, Georgia Police Department on May 25, 1994.