ERA09LA107
ERA09LA107

On December 25, 2008, at about 1450 eastern standard time, an amateur built DM-1 helicopter, N75EW, lost control in flight and made a forced landing near Salters, South Carolina. The certificated commercial pilot and the passenger received minor injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that during a local flight he picked up his brother, serviced the helicopter with a full load of fuel, and then flew for approximately 3 hours. He said that while maneuvering he climbed to an altitude of 800 feet above ground level, and the helicopter, without command input, pitched up and slowed to 40 knots. He tried forward cyclic to lower the pitch attitude but was unsuccessful. He attempted to turn left and right but was, again, unsuccessful. He entered an autorotation and began to feel extreme lateral oscillations of the cyclic control. He continued by saying that the autorotation was almost vertical with no forward airspeed and in a nose high attitude. The helicopter impacted the ground and the pilot was ejected.

Examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed the end cap of the main rotor blade was missing. The inspector attributed the separation to an excessive blade bowing due to taking off above maximum gross weight, resulting in a shift in the rotor blades center of gravity. "The change of the blade's center of gravity created or aggravated the main rotor blades twisting and balance reactance to such a level that the end cap of the red blade detached from the blade. This blade cap departure created a radical shift in balance and drag of the rotor blade causing an out of balance and track condition of the main rotor resulting in a pitch up of the aircraft and lack of longitudinal control." Review of helicopter logbook revealed the conditions inspection was 8 months past the required 12-month inspection interval.

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