FTW03LA013
FTW03LA013

On October 15, 2002, at 2010 central daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 single-engine helicopter, N61463, was substantially damaged during a hard landing following a complete loss of engine power near San Antonio, Texas. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Stinson Air Center LLC, of San Antonio. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot were not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The round robin cross-country flight originated from the Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, at 1845.

According to the CFI, the purpose of the flight was to provide night VFR cross-country navigation instruction to the student. The flight was from SSF to the Pleasanton Municipal Airport (PEZ), Pleasanton, Texas to the Live Oak County Airport (8T6), George West, Texas and returning to SSF. The CFI stated that a flight navigation log sheet was not used for the flight; however, during his preflight planning he estimated that the fuel burn rate was 10 gallons per hour at a cruise airspeed of 85 knots, and the total fight time was going to be 90 minutes. According to an FAA inspector, the normal cruise airspeed for this helicopter is 70 knots.

The flight departed SSF, over flew PEX and 8T6, and was en route back to SSF. The CFI and student discussed the low fuel status while over flying PEZ; however, they elected not to refuel because neither pilot had a credit card. The helicopter was between Leming and Loop 1604 when its amber colored low fuel warning light illuminated. A few minutes elapsed, and the flight was approximately 10 miles south of SSF when the engine lost total power. An autorotation was initiated, the helicopter impacted trees and landed hard. The tailboom separated from the airframe. The pilot stated that the reason for the loss of engine power was fuel exhaustion.

In the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report Form, in the section, Recommendation (How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented), the pilot wrote the use of a "full navigation log" may have prevented the accident.

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