On June 15, 2011, at 1450 central daylight time, a Schweizer 269C, N2077E, operated by the University of North Dakota, sustained substantial damage to the tailboom while recovering from a practice autorotation in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The certified flight instructor and the student pilot were not injured. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), Grand Forks, North Dakota, at 1430.

The flight instructor and student were performing a simulated forced landing which was to terminate with power when the accident occurred. The student lowered the collective to enter the autorotation and set the trim and pitch to maintain the recommended airspeed. The instructor adjusted the collective during the autorotation in order to prevent an overspeed and the student began the flare at an altitude of about 50 feet above the ground. The instructor stated the rotor revolutions per minute (rpm) were within the green arc and the engine was at 2,600 rpm.

The student used the collective to reduce the forward speed and rate of descent. The engine power was then increased to recover from the autorotation and the instructor noted the engine rpm needle moving up through 3,000 rpm. The instructor reported the helicopter was slightly tail low and it yawed slightly as the power was increased. The instructor took over the controls to level the skids and straighten the heading as the helicopter continued to sink. The helicopter continued to descend making a “light touch down” and run-on landing. The instructor reported that during the level-off and ground contact, they heard a metal on metal type sound.

Postaccident inspection of the helicopter revealed two of the main rotor blades had contacted the tailboom.

The helicopter was equipped with a Appareo RMS-2000 flight data recorder. The data downloaded from the recorder is included in the docket for this report.

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