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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: WPR18FA232
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 21, 2018 in Granger, TX
Aircraft: HUGHES 369, registration: N530FU
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 21, 2018, about 1218 central daylight time, a Hughes 369FF, N530FU, struck overhead power lines near Granger, Texas. The flight instructor and foreign registered military pilot undergoing instruction sustained fatal injuries and the helicopter was destroyed by post impact fire. The helicopter was registered to Air 1 Sandpoint Helicopters Inc. and operated by Brunner Aerospace under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Georgetown Municipal Airport, Georgetown, Texas, about 1208 and was destined for Taylor Municipal Airport, Taylor, Texas.

The flight was to provide emergency procedure recurrency training to the pilot, who was a member of the Jordanian Armed Forces. Brunner Aerospace had been contracted to provide the training on behalf of the US Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO).

The accident occurred on the second day of the nine-day-long training course, and it was intended to be a local orientation flight. The accident sequence was not observed by any witnesses, however preliminary radar data revealed a target departing Georgetown (airport elevation 786 ft mean sea level (msl)) to the east and reaching an altitude of 1,450 ft msl after traveling 9 miles. The target then began to descend while continuing the eastbound track. The last recorded target was traveling at a speed of about 100 knots, and an elevation of 700 ft msl (150 ft above ground level).

The wreckage was located in a cotton field, 16 miles east of Georgetown and about 1,500 ft east of the last radar target. The first identified point of ground contact consisted of a series of five matching two-foot-long excavations, equally spaced over about 40 ft and on a heading of 100° magnetic. The cotton bushes adjacent to the disturbances had been sheered on a 45° plane relative to the ground. The debris field, which consisted of landing skid fragments, pieces of windshield, cabin contents and sections of main rotor blade, continued 100 ft on a heading of 080° directly to the main cabin.

The cabin came to rest on its left side, on a heading of about 280°. Most of the cabin was consumed by fire, and the tailcone and tail rotor assembly had separated and were located about 20 ft to the east.

The field was bordered to the west by a series of 36-ft-tall power distribution poles oriented north-south and spaced about 450 ft apart. The top of the poles were spanned by a steel 6/3 stranded overhead line, and an underbuild line 4 ft below. The overhead line in the northwest corner of the field (about 950 ft from the main wreckage) had severed about 160 ft from the north pole, and a red belly-mounted strobe light lens was located 100 ft east. The other side of the line (about 1,300 ft in length) had pulled away from the two poles to the south and was continuous to the main wreckage.