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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA16LA100
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 13, 2016 in Ritter Butte, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/16/2016
Aircraft: ENSTROM F-28, registration: N756H
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the commercial pilot, the purpose of the flight was predator animal control in an area of adjoining ranches. The pilot stated that, during the flight, the fuel indicator began bouncing back and forth and reading erratically. Subsequently, the pilot used his watch to time the fuel burn to determine when he had to return to the fuel point. As the pilot was about to return to the fuel point, the fuel indicator stabilized, indicating that the fuel tank was about one-quarter full, and the pilot then flew toward the fuel truck. When the helicopter was about 100 ft above the terrain, the low fuel indicator illuminated, followed by the loss of engine power. The pilot estimated that about a 20-mph tailwind existed, so he performed a 180-degree turn to point the helicopter’s nose into the wind while entering an autorotation. After completing the 180-degree turn, the pilot did not see any flat or open terrain and chose to land on a rocky outcropping. While the pilot was trying to avoid landing in trees, the helicopter impacted terrain, which resulted in the helicopter sustaining substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor gear box.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion and subsequent impact with terrain.