CHI94LA138
CHI94LA138

On April 21, 1994, about 1502 central daylight time, a Schweizer 269C helicopter sustained substantial damage when it landed hard during a practice autorotation at the Fargo Airport, Fargo, North Dakota. The commercial certificated helicopter pilot was not injured; an FAA inspector aboard received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight.

The pilot reported he was demonstrating practice autorotations to touchdown to the FAA inspector as part of a check ride for a helicopter flight instructor certificate. The pilot said he was turning base to final approach for runway 13, when he inadvertently raised the collective and allowed the rotor speed to decay. He said he continued the approach to touchdown, but landed much harder than he anticipated.

The FAA Inspector aboard said in his statement to the NTSB that the accident pilot had performed "superbly" in all other areas of the flight test, but was having some difficulty with the autorotations. Describing the circumstances preceding the accident, the FAA Inspector wrote: "During the turn from base to final we were about 150 feet which was lower than normal, and was going to result in a touchdown about 200' short of our designated spot. As we rolled out of the turn at about 25', our rate of descent increased rapidly resulting in a very hard impact, touching down initially on the left skid...normally during this maneuver I rest my hand on the collective to assure the applicant does not increase collective, but in this case I did not."

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