MIA05CA134
MIA05CA134

On July 12, 2005, about 1232 Atlantic standard time, a Bell 206B, N27VT, registered to J & A Development Corporation, experienced a hard landing following fuel exhaustion while repositioning the helicopter at Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local, personal flight. The helicopter was substantially damaged and the commercial-rated pilot and one passenger were not injured. The flight was originating at the time of the occurrence.

The pilot stated that earlier in the morning he flew with an individual for 1/2 hour, and following that flight secured the engine and waited for approximately 1 hour to allow the engine to cool down. Following that time, he started the engine in order to relocate the helicopter to the south side of the airport. While air taxiing, he suddenly saw the boost pump caution light illuminate followed by the engine out light and low rpm warning lights. He performed an autorotation on the south taxiway.

According to the passenger, while flying 10 feet above ground level the engine seemed to start losing power. The pilot maneuvered the helicopter into the wind while descending, and further reported that when the helicopter contacted the ground, the main rotor blade contacted the tailboom causing separation of it. The pilot then secured the helicopter and asked if he was OK. Both exited the helicopter, and rescue personnel assisted them promptly. The passenger also stated that the total flight time was approximately 20-30 seconds, and at no time did he perceive any visual or audio alarms, but he is not familiar with the helicopter or its systems.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector-in-charge (IIC) who examined the accident site and helicopter, and also talked with the pilot, the pilot reported to him that the purpose of the flight was to reposition the helicopter for fuel. The pilot reported to the FAA-IIC that during his preflight inspection, the fuel gauge indicated greater than 10 gallons of fuel. Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed less than one ounce of fuel was drained from the fuel tank, and approximately 1 liter of fuel was drained from the fuel filter canister. The fuel quantity gauge was tested and was found to indicate correct when fuel was added in five gallon increments; a total of 15 gallons were added during the test.

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