SEA01LA054
SEA01LA054

On February 27, 2001, approximately 1431 Pacific standard time, a Robinson R22 helicopter, N8362Q, registered to Rhoades Holdings Ltd. of Tacoma, Washington, and operated by Classic Helicopter Corporation of Seattle, Washington, collided with terrain on the airport at King County International Airport/Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, during a 14 CFR 91 instructional flight. The helicopter was substantially damaged in the accident. The two aircraft occupants were the commercial pilot-in-command (a certificated helicopter flight instructor) and a commercial pilot who was undergoing helicopter flight instructor training. The trainee received minor injuries, and the flight instructor/pilot-in-command was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions with winds variable at 5 knots were reported at Boeing Field at 1353, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight from Boeing Field.

The pilots reported that the accident flight maneuver was intended as a 180-degree autorotation to touchdown from an entry airspeed of 70 knots and entry altitude of 300 feet above ground level (AGL). The instructor reported that halfway around the 180-degree turn, the helicopter's airspeed was 65 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) (the airspeed specified by the R22 Pilot's Operating Handbook for maximum glide distance), with rotor RPM in the normal operating range. The trainee reported that after establishing the proper turn rate, he noted that rotor RPM was in the normal range, but that the helicopter's airspeed had slowed to about 50 knots. The trainee reported that "Not more than a second later", he noted that "the rate of descent appeared to be higher than normal and the ground closer than expected" (the instructor reported he noted the rate of descent was "greater than normal for our proximity to the ground...[as] we were about to roll out of the turn.") The pilots reported that they attempted a recovery by applying right and aft cyclic (to roll out of the turn and initiate a flare), raising collective, and adding power, but that the helicopter then struck the ground and rolled onto its right side. The instructor reported that the helicopter struck the ground less than a second after the pilots initiated their attempt to recover from the situation.

An FAA inspector who performed a post-accident on-scene examination of the helicopter reported that no mechanical abnormalities were reported by the flight crew, that flight control continuity was verified after the accident with only post-crash damage found in the tail rotor flight control system, and that engine controls were also found to be functional. The operator's accident report to the NTSB indicated that no mechanical malfunction or failure was involved in the accident.

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