On August 11, 2000, at 1130 hours local time, a Hughes 369HS helicopter, South Africa registration ZS-HFE, landed hard in a field near Cape Town, South Africa, following the in-flight separation of the tail rotor and gear box assembly. The aircraft was operated by Civair Helicopters of Cape Town under the provisions of South Africa's civil aviation regulations and sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot and two observers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area aerial observation flight, which originated from Cape Town about 1100 on the morning of the accident.

According to preliminary information supplied by the South Africa Civil Aviation Authority, the helicopter was in cruise at 1,300 feet msl when the pilot felt a high frequency vibration through the antitorque pedals. The pilot was initiating a descent to a precautionary landing when a loud bang was heard and felt, and antitorque control was lost. The pilot landed hard in a field and the main rotor severed the tail boom. The tail rotor and gearbox assembly was found about 2 kilometers from the helicopter-landing site. The abrasion strips were missing from tail rotor blades and the drive fork bolt was fractured.

The accident is under the jurisdiction of, and is being investigated by, the South Africa Civil Aviation Authority. Further information can be obtained from:

Chief Executive Officer Civil Aviation Authority Private Bag X08 Pretoria, 0145 Republic of South Africa

Telephone 27 12 346-5566 Facsimile 27 12 346-5288

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