SEA06CA102
SEA06CA102

On May 19, 2006, about 1300 Pacific daylight time, a Hughes 369A helicopter, N369V, sustained substantial damage during a hard landing at Skyport Airport near Banks, Oregon. The commercial pilot, who was taking the practical test for issuance of a flight instructor certificate, and the designated examiner were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Applebee Aviation, Inc., of Banks. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 flight. The flight departed from the Portland - Hillsboro Airport in Hillsboro, Oregon, about 1200.

The pilot reported that he was asked by the examiner to perform a 180 degree autorotation with a power recovery. He entered the autorotation, executed the 180 degree turn, and initiated the flare at approximately 50 feet agl. He stated that he "failed to roll on enough throttle simultaneously with the flare as the rotor RPM started to decay." He further stated that the examiner told him, "power, power, power," which he interpreted as meaning pull up on the collective. The addition of collective pitch further decayed the rotor RPM. The helicopter made "a firm level landing," and the main rotor contacted and severed the tail boom.

The pilot explained that in his training, he had learned to associate the term "power" with "pull power on the collective" and the term "roll on" with "roll on the throttle." When the examiner told him, "power, power, power," he reacted by applying collective, but the examiner was wanting him to add power by rolling on the throttle. The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented by maintaining rotor RPM during the power recovery and "proper understanding of commands between DPE [examiner] and PIC."


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