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On January 31, 2009, at 1108 Pacific standard time (PST), a Robinson Helicopter Company (RHC) R22 Beta II, N4160A, impacted terrain following an in-flight breakup near Fillmore, California. Orbic Helicopters Sales & Service at Camarillo LLC was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The certificated private pilot was killed; the helicopter was substantially damaged by impact forces. The local personal flight departed Camarillo, California, about 1030. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.
Witnesses near the accident site reported that they did not hear anything unusual prior to the sound of the crash.
The operator stated that the pilot had rented the helicopter for a personal proficiency flight, and believed him to be going to the local practice area.
A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 47-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, and helicopter. The operator reported that the pilot also held a Japanese commercial airplane pilot license, and was employed by a commuter airline in Japan.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) obtained the aeronautical experience listed in this report from a review of the FAA airmen medical records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot reported on his third-class medical application dated July 7, 2007, that he had a total time of 4,930 hours, with 100 hours logged in the last 6 months.
The operator reported that the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 46 hours in helicopters, of which all were in the make and model helicopter involved in the accident. Approximately 7 hours had been logged in the last 90 days, and 7 hours logged in the last 30 days. A biennial flight review was completed on January 30, 2009.
The helicopter was a Robinson R22 Beta II, serial number 4297. A review of the helicopter’s logbooks revealed that the helicopter had a total airframe time of 851 hours at the time of the accident. The logbooks contained an entry for a 100-hour annual inspection dated December 11, 2008. The Hobbs hour meter read 798.2 hours at the last inspection. The Hobbs hour meter read 851.7 hours at the accident site.
The engine was a Textron Lycoming O-360-J2A, serial number (S/N) L-41077-36E. Total time recorded on the engine at the last 100-hour inspection was 798.2 hours.
The closest official weather observation station was Camarillo Airport (CMA), Camarillo, California, which was 20 nautical miles (nm) southwest of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 77 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for CMA was issued at 1055 PDT. It stated: winds from 170 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 10 miles; skies clear; temperature 21 degrees Celsius; dew point 4 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident debris field was along a magnetic heading of 090 degrees and extended approximately 900 feet.
Documentation of the wreckage distribution by the Robinson Helicopter participant noted that the helicopter sustained severe damage because of impacting the ground, and other damage consistent with the main rotor blade contacting the tailcone while in flight. The helicopter impacted the ground with the right side low, and no, or very little, forward speed. Pieces of tailcone, tail rotor flight controls, and tail rotor driveshaft were located about 900 feet west of the main wreckage.
There were four disconnects in the main rotor flight controls; one at the aft end of the A121-1 P/P tube, one at the A205-1 fork attachment to the collective stick, and one on each pitch change link. There were also four disconnects in the tail rotor flight controls; one at the forward end of the A121-11 P/P tube, one at the aft end of the A121-15 Push/Pull tube, and two in the A121-17 P/P tube. The edges of all of the disconnects were angular and jagged.
The first bay of the tailcone (TC) remained attached to the upper frame and was bent up and to the right. The second bay and the forward end of the third bay were disconnected from the first bay. The second bay had a crease in the lower left side running approximately 90 degrees to TC centerline (C/L). There were black scuff marks and a crease across bay two and three, on the left side, running approximately 60 degrees to TC C/L. The aft end of bay three and bay four had a crease on their lower left side running approximately 45 degrees to TC C/L, and those two bays were disconnected from each other. Bay four was torn into many pieces, and most of those pieces had black scuff marks and/or creases. Bay five remained attached to the empennage and sustained very minor damage.
Main rotor blade, S/N 7029, came to rest with its leading edge up and laying across the cabin. It was bent 70 degrees; tip up, 27 inches outboard of the pitch change boot. Approximately 36 inches of upper and lower skin was disconnected from the spar at midspan coinciding with the forward bending of the spar. The trailing edge sustained impact damage. The spar was bowed up at the tip. There were several chordwise creases on both the upper and lower skins. The outboard end of the leading edge had red scuff marks, which appeared to match the red “Danger” decal on the tailcone. There were deep chordwise scrape marks near the trailing edge of the lower skin. The paint finish was eroded beyond the bond line at the tip of the lower surface. There was a puncture in the upper skin near the trim tab.
Main rotor blade S/N 7035 came to rest perpendicular to the airframe with the upper surface facing up. It was bent 70 degrees, tip up, 28 inches outboard of the pitch change boot, bowed down over the next 2 feet and bowed up from midspan out to the tip. The outboard end of the upper skin had red scuff marks which appeared to match the red “Danger” decal on the tailcone. There were several creases running chordwise on both the upper and lower skins. The paint finish was eroded beyond the bond line at the tip of the lower surface. There was a puncture in the upper skin near the trim tab.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Ventura County Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot on February 2, 2009. The coroner listed the cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.
Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airframe and engine were examined with no mechanical anomalies identified that would have precluded normal operation.
A detailed report with accompanying pictures is contained in the public docket for this accident.