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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: WPR18LA226
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 17, 2018 in Riverside, CA
Aircraft: Hughes 369, registration: N105JL
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 August 17, 2018, about 1050 Pacific daylight time, a Hughes 369D helicopter, N105JL, was substantially damaged following a hard landing during a practice autorotation at Riverside Municipal Airport (RAL), Riverside, California. The certified flight instructor received minor injuries and the pilot receiving instruction was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to Helicopters Unlimited, La Crescenta, California, and operated by Western Helicopters, Inc., Riverside, California, in accordance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological condition prevailed for the local instructional flight, which departed RAL about 1030, and no flight plan was filed.

In a statement submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the certified flight instructor reported that after he and the student had both performed several uneventful power recovery autorotations, he advised the student that the next evolution would be a full touch down, 180o autorotation. The instructor stated that during the maneuver the helicopter was turning back to the runway slower than he wanted it to. When he realized that they were going to be short of the intended landing zone, he advanced the throttle to make a power recovery, but the descent was greater than anticipated. The instructor opined that he then told the student to level the skids, and that he was on the controls to assist him. Subsequently, the helicopter landed hard, which resulted in the tail boom separating and the main rotor blades contacting the ground. The helicopter then spun around to the right, during which the student was ejected from the helicopter.