SEA08LA035
SEA08LA035

On November 21, 2007, at 1010 Pacific standard time, a Schweizer 269C helicopter, N61480, lost engine power during cruise flight approximately 7 miles east-southeast of the departure point of Chehalem Airpark, Newberg, Oregon. Precision Helicopters, Inc., the registered owner of the helicopter, was operating it under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The student pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that was destined for Aurora State Airport, Aurora, Oregon. The pilot departed from Newberg about 1000.

The student pilot reported that he departed on a cross-country flight. As the helicopter was in cruise flight at 1,500 feet mean sea level, the student pilot applied the cabin heater and did not make any additional adjustments. The engine then sputtered twice and lost power. The student pilot attempted to restart the engine and then entered an autorotation. Upon impact with the ground, the student pilot blacked out. The student pilot stated that the fuel shut off control was located on the left side of the instrument panel, and that the heater control was located on the far right side of the instrument panel. The helicopter sustained structural damage to the airframe, cockpit, and tail boom.

Initial on-scene documentation showed that the heater control was in the "IN" position, indicating that the heater was off. The fuel shut off control was in the "OUT" position, which cuts off fuel flow to the engine.

The accident helicopter is flown from the left seat and the fuel shut off control is located on the left side of the panel, close to the pilot. The heater control, which was installed by Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), is located to the right of the fuel shut off control on the far right side of the panel. On the Schweizer 269C1 model (also operated by the operator), the pilot flies the helicopter from the right seat. Therefore, the fuel shut off control is on the right side of the panel. In the operator's Schweizer 269C1 model, the heater control had been installed to the left of the fuel shut off control, opposite to the Schweizer 269C model. The student pilot had flown both of these helicopters. Pull-type knobs operate the heater and fuel shut off controls.

The operator had obtained an STC for installation of the heater in the 269C model, and was in the process of getting approval for the heater installation for the 269C1 model.

Schweizer Aircraft Corporation offers an optional, after market heater installation. The heater control is installed on the front of the center seat area and not on the instrument panel. The control is operated using side-to-side motion for "ON" and "OFF" positions.

No anomalies were noted with the airframe, engine, and components that would have resulted in a loss of engine power.

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