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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA17LA116
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 24, 2017 in Chatham, NJ
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N44EK
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 24, 2017, at 1837 eastern standard time, a Robinson R-44 helicopter, N44EK, collided with a building and terrain during an autorotation near Chatham, New Jersey. The private pilot received minor injuries and the passenger was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to N44EK Inc. and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual metrological conditions prevailed near the accident site at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from Richmond Executive Airport-Chesterfield County (FCI), Richmond, Virginia, and was destined for the Lincoln Park Airport (N07), Lincoln Park, New Jersey.

The passenger stated that the helicopter was newly acquired. They were transiting near Morristown, New Jersey, when he heard a "whoosh" sound and then the engine experienced a total loss of power. The pilot then performed an autorotation.

A witness in the nearby apartment building stated he heard the helicopter, and described the sounds as the "engine missing or puttering." He heard it pass over the roof then heard the collision.

Initial examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the helicopter hit the roof of a garage and then came to rest on an asphalt road. The tail rotor separated and the main rotor blades were bent down span wise.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.