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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA18CA424
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, July 16, 2018 in New Castle, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/05/2019
Aircraft: Bell 206, registration: N39LR
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the helicopter pilot, during an agricultural flight, he landed on the tender truck platform. The ground crewman connected a hose to fill the hopper, but he did not provide positive communication to the pilot regarding task completion. Consequently, "due to crew miscommunication," the pilot took off with the hose still connected to the helicopter. The tail rotor struck the hose, and the pilot lost tail rotor effectiveness. The helicopter entered an uncontrollable right spin, and the pilot lowered the collective. The helicopter descended, struck the ground, and then rolled over.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom, tail rotor system, main rotor system, and the skids.
The pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented by implementing a documented operating procedure to ensure positive communication between the ground crew and pilot.
The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to ensure that the fill hose was disconnected from the helicopter before takeoff, which resulted in the fill hose striking the tail rotor and the subsequent loss of tail rotor effectiveness. Contributing to the accident was inadequate communication between the ground crewman and the pilot.