ATL04TA142
ATL04TA142

On June 30, 2004, at 2000 eastern daylight time, a Bell UH-1H helicopter, N128FC, registered to and operated by the USDA Forest Service FEPP, was struck by a fuel trailer while the driver of the refueling vehicle positioned to refuel the standing helicopter near Childs, Florida. The public use flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The commercial pilot was uninjured and helicopter sustained substantial damaged. The flight was participating in a wildlife fire operation in the vicinity of Childs, Florida, on June 30, 2004 at 1800.

According to the pilot, while participating in a wildfire operation, he maneuvered the helicopter to land and conduct a "hot" refueling. After landing, the pilot noticed that one of the skids were off of the pavement and was beginning to settle in the ground. The pilot lifted the helicopter to reposition the skid on the pavement. At the same time, the refuel trailer was being pulled forward towards the helicopter. After the helicopter was positioned on the pavement, the refueling trailer continued towards the helicopter until it struck the right synchronized elevator on the tail boom assembly.

Examination of the helicopter revealed the right synchronized elevator was buckled. No flight control or mechanical anomalies were reported by the pilot. Review of the USDA Forest Service operating procedures revealed that there were no operating procedures for "hot" refueling. Subsequent to this accident procedures have been adopted to prevent reoccurrence of this type accident.

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