MIA07LA049
MIA07LA049

On February 11, 2007, about 1306 eastern standard time, a McDonnell Douglas 369 FF, N819BP, registered to BP Aviation LLC and operated by an individual, crashed into a mangrove area during liftoff from an open field at Placida, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 91 personal flight. The private-rated pilot received minor injuries and the two passengers were not injured, and the helicopter incurred substantial damage. The flight was originating at the time.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors stated that the helicopter landed in an area that was commonly utilized as an overflow parking area for the restaurant parking lot. When the helicopter landed, the area was empty of vehicles. By the time the pilot was ready to depart the overflow parking area was full of vehicles. The pilot had to wait until several vehicles left the area in order to depart. None of the restaurant representatives recalled receiving prior communication of the helicopter's arrival in the parking area for that day.

The pilot stated that a preflight and pre-start checklist was completed. During the start up "All the gauges were within normal operating ranges, controls were checked and were normal, and there were no cautions or warnings." The helicopter was brought to a short duration, low stabilized hover with no indications of warnings or cautions. The collective was lifted for the departure. At about 20 feet above the ground, he heard a loud bang. The helicopter snapped to the right and he applied the left pedal, the horizon moved at great speed as the g-force increased. The pilot lowered the collective, decreased the throttle, and used the cyclic control to maneuver away from the congestion. The helicopter crashed into the trees. The engine was shutdown. The pilot and the two passengers evacuated the helicopter.

Witnesses stated that white smoke was seen coming out of the tail section before the engine spooled up. Once the helicopter's engine started, the helicopter rose to 30 feet (one witness stated up to 80 feet), before the helicopter went out of control. Another witness reported hearing a big bang noise from the helicopter and something black about a foot long fly off the tail rotor section. Immediately after this the helicopter started spinning uncontrollable clockwise before descending and impacting into trees.

A post recovery wreckage examination was conducted by an FAA inspector and representatives from the Boeing Company and Rolls-Royce Engines. Examination of the tailrotor assembly mounted on the tailboom showed that the tail rotor control rod attaching to the tailrotor bellcrank was broken off. Approximately 2 inches of the clevis end of the bellcrank was missing. Neither of the sections was recovered. The fractured bellcrank and control rod were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board, Materials Laboratory, for examination. The examination revealed the fractured bellcrank and control rod had fracture surfaces consistent with bending overload. The examination of the remainder of the flight control system, helicopter structure and engine revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanic failure or malfunction.


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