CEN11LA339
CEN11LA339

On May 16, 2011, about 1305 central daylight time, an MD Helicopters 369E, N4278T, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Victoria, Texas. The commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured. The helicopter was registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest N/A Trustee and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The helicopter's tailboom section sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight had departed the Victoria Regional Airport (KVCT), Victoria, Texas, about 1255, destined for the William P. Hobby Airport (KHOU), Houston, Texas.

According to the pilot, after refueling, the helicopter departed for Houston. Approximately 5 minutes into the flight the pilot observed the engine out caution light and received an audible alarm. The pilot then saw the automatic re-ignition light illuminate. Since the engine appeared to operate at a reduced power setting, the pilot elected to perform a run-on landing, in an open area. Upon touchdown, the helicopter settled into uneven terrain and the tailboom contacted the rising terrain. Ground contact of the tail rotor stinger and tail rotor blades resulted in significant damage to the tailboom, tail rotor blades and tail rotor drive system. Damage to the helicopter and impact signatures were consistent with the helicopter landing with little to no forward movement.

A postaccident examination found the fuel control governor switch located on the pilot's collective was set near the minimum limit. According to the helicopter manufacturer, along with reduced total engine power, the associated warning of a minimum governor setting would be an engine out caution light, audible warning, and re-ignition light illumination. Also found was the trim setting set to the full forward/nose down limit. The helicopter's engine was removed and sent to Rolls-Royce for a test run. The engine was started and produced rated power without anomalies.

A follow-up interview with the pilot revealed a student helicopter pilot and had performed the pilot procedures through engine start. The commercial pilot then assumed control of the helicopter. The pilot added that during the loss of the engine power, he confirmed full throttle and activated the governor switch. He stated that he did not actuate the trim to the full nose forward position. The exact position of the switches at the time of the accident could not be determined.

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