On May 21, 2008, at 1004 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter AS350 B2, N417AE, was substantially damaged during engine run-up, prior to takeoff at Caffery Heliport, Hiram, Georgia. The certificated commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the positioning flight to Austell, Georgia. The helicopter was registered to GE Business Financial Services Incorporated, and operated by Omniflight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that after he conducted a preflight inspection, he started the helicopter. As he advanced the throttle from idle to flight rpm, the helicopter shook violently. He said that he immediately conducted an emergency shutdown and inspected the helicopter. During the inspection, he discovered that the tail rotor boom was buckled, and the main rotor starflex arm was broken.
Based on information from the director of maintenance (DOM), the recent maintenance history and inspection status of the helicopter was reviewed. The review revealed that the starflex was not listed on the Aircraft Status Report for the accident aircraft. The DOM further stated that the record keeping process was prone to error, because interpretation of complex component life limit historical records were done by "lesser qualified personnel." An audit of the starflex's life limit status was conducted, and it was discovered that the life limit of 2,200 hours of the starflex had been exceeded by 586.4 operating hours. At the time of the accident, the total time on the starflex arm was 2,786 hours. When the accident aircraft was purchased, the starflex time in service was 2,588 hours. At that time, the operator's conformity inspection failed to discover the excess hours. After the accident the operator immediately audited the time in service of all the starflexes on the remainder of their fleet. No other starflexes were found to have exceeded their life limit.