NYC00LA263
NYC00LA263

On September 13, 2000, about 0930 Eastern Daylight Time, a Bell 206B, N3298G, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in North Arlington, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local aerial application flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 137. The flight departed a private helipad near Belleville, New Jersey, about 0830.

During an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot stated that he had completed aerial spraying, and was returning to the private helipad, about 3-5 miles away. At an altitude of about 40-60 feet above the ground, the pilot thought he observed a chip warning light momentarily illuminate. He attempted to divert to Teterboro Airport, Teterboro, New Jersey, where maintenance facilities were available. The engine then lost all power, and the pilot performed an autorotation to a field.

During the landing, the main rotor blades struck small trees. The main rotor blades and tailboom sustained substantial damage.

On the day of the accident, FAA inspectors examined the helicopter. They activated the electrical power, and the fuel gauge displayed "E." The inspectors then looked into the fuel tank, and observed approximately 5-7 gallons of fuel.

Two days after the accident, the operator stated that an electrical connector on a fuel boost pump had failed, and was replaced. However, the pilot never stated that he observed a "FUEL PUMP" warning.

According to a representative from the helicopter manufacturer, the make and model helicopter burned approximately 25 gallons of fuel per hour.

Review of a make and model helicopter flight manual revealed:

"Due to possible fuel sloshing in unusual attitudes or out of trim conditions and one or both fuel boost pumps inoperative, the unusable fuel is ten gallons."

Review of Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.151(b) revealed:

"No person may begin a flight in a rotorcraft under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed, to fly after that for at least 20 minutes."

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