On October 31, 1997, at 1416 eastern standard time, a Hughes 269B, N2273W, was substantially damaged during a hard landing on a roadway, following an uncontrolled descent while on approach to the Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio. The certificated commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for sightseeing flight that originated at BKL, at 1400. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a telephone interview , the pilot stated he was approximately 1,200 feet mean sea level (msl) and turning the helicopter to parallel the runway at BKL, heading in a northerly direction. The pilot said he noticed the airspeed had decayed to 35 - 40 knots. He said he pushed forward cyclic to increase airspeed and the helicopter failed to respond.

The pilot said he announced to BKL Tower, "I have a problem, I'm coming back..." and initiated a descent towards the airport. The pilot said his airspeed continued to decay throughout the descent. Approximately 150 feet above ground level (agl) and "zero" airspeed, the helicopter entered an uncommanded 360 degree spin to the right that could not be stopped with input to the tail rotor (anti-torque) pedals. The pilot said he regained heading control for 3 - 5 seconds after the first spin. At 30 feet agl, the pilot said, "...the engine was at redline and I was running out of collective. It spun around to the right again and to the ground."

An inspection of the helicopter's flight control systems was conducted by two Aviation Safety Inspectors of the Federal Aviation Administration. According to their statement, the inspection revealed that: "No abnormalities or excessive play was noted, and continuity existed in the collective, cyclic and tail rotor control systems. All controls moved freely and functioned normally."

In a written statement, the pilot reported he encountered a 35 knot crosswind during descent. Weather observed at Burke Lakefront at the time of the accident was: ceiling 10,000 feet broken and 15 statue miles visibility; the temperature was 68 degrees and the dewpoint was 45 degrees; the wind was from 180 degrees at 20 knots.

Examination of the voice communication tapes from Burke Lakefront Tower revealed that, prior to takeoff, the pilot requested a departure to the south. He said:

"I'd like to take off to the south. I'd like to use this wind as much as I can...I've got too much tailwind for the load that I've got."

According to the United States Army Field Manual 1-203, Fundamentals of Flight:

"Conditions conducive to settling with power are a vertical or near-vertical descent of at least 300 feet per minute and low forward speed. The rotor system must be using some of the available power (from 20-100 percent) with insufficient power available to retard the sink rate. These conditions can occur during downwind approaches...applying collective pitch can aggravate power settling."

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