DEN01LA077
DEN01LA077

On March 25, 2001, at approximately 1330 mountain standard time, a Bell UH-1H helicopter, N56CF, was substantially damaged when it collided with the terrain during an emergency landing near Zuni, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and sole occupant was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for this ferry flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Double Eagle II Airport, Albuquerque, New Mexico, at approximately 1230.

According to the pilot, he noticed an illuminated master caution light and high engine oil temperature. A few moments later, he received a report from a pilot in a second helicopter telling him that his engine was on fire. The pilot then noticed an engine chip light. He shut down the engine and "initiated an autorotation." The engine seized at approximately 200 feet above ground level (AGL) and the helicopter hit the ground hard. The pilot stated that he "elected to run the A/C on because of the altitude (7,800') and being downwind. The landing worked out fine until the skids grabbed in the soft dirt and collapsed." The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the skids, bottom of fuselage and fire damage to the engine. The fire extinguished prior to landing.

An examination of the engine at a helicopter repair station in Redding, California, identified that the "engine's number three and four bearing pack seal had failed." The failure resulted in "high engine oil temperature, which led to the engine fire and subsequent failure of the engine."

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