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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA19CA066
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 10, 2018 in Lihue, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/10/2019
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N445KP
Injuries: 3 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.

The pilot reported that, before the helicopter tour flight, he had briefed the passengers, but they still attempted to take cell phones onboard without cases. He then gave the passengers cases and attached them to their wrists. During the flight, while the helicopter was flying about 100 knots, the right-side passenger held her cell phone and case outside of the cabin into the airflow, which resulted in the cell phone and case without the strap exiting the helicopter and subsequently impacting the tail rotor.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail rotor.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions 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 passenger’s improper decision to hold her cell phone outside the helicopter, which resulted in it departing the helicopter and striking the tail rotor.