WPR11LA056
WPR11LA056

On November 22, 2010, about 1315 mountain standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N408UH, sustained substantial damage when it struck a highway reflector pole near Riverdale, Utah. The helicopter was registered to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, and operated by Air Methods, Englewood, Colorado, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and his two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from the Ogden Regional Medical Center, Ogden, Utah, about 3 minutes prior to the accident.

During a telephone conversation with the Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the pilot reported that the intent of the flight was to respond to an automobile accident and transport a patient to the Ogden Regional Medical Center. The pilot stated he performed an aerial observation of the intended landing area on interstate 84, noting the wind from 230 to 240 degrees at 15 to 20 knots and all pertinent obstacles. The pilot initiated a high-angle approach perpendicular to the highway; upon landing the pilot noted a forward nose down slope and decided to reposition the helicopter. As the pilot performed a pedal turn to reposition the helicopter, the tail rotor struck a highway reflector pole. The pilot said that after colliding with the highway reflector pole, he rolled the throttle off and initiated a hovering auto rotation. The helicopter subsequently landed hard on the highway.

The pilot reported there were no preaccident mechanical problems with the helicopter.

Examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the tail rotor and tail rotor gearbox were damaged. The tail rotor drive shaft was separated at the forward Thomas coupling near the tail boom attachment point and at the tail rotor gearbox attachment point.

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