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N162RY accident description

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Tail numberN162RY
Accident dateJune 05, 2009
Aircraft typeYork Ronald J Rotorway 162F
LocationBerlin, VT
Near 44.203333 N, -72.562222 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On June 5, 2009, about 1210 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Rotorway 162F, N162RY, was destroyed in a postcrash fire following an impact with terrain, while approaching Edward F. Knapp State Airport (MPV), Berlin, Vermont. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a witness, he was looking out a rear door of a building when he saw the helicopter traveling southwest, toward the airport. At the time, the engine sounded "strong." The witness then heard a "pop noise," and the helicopter nosed down, "straight into the ground."

Another witness was at a yard sale when he saw the helicopter heading for the airport. He looked down at a sales table, heard a "big pop," then saw the helicopter "descending down." The witness subsequently proceeded in his truck to the accident scene, where he found the helicopter in flames.

A third witness was outside her office when she heard a "strange noise from an aircraft." She looked up and saw a "small helicopter pitching nose down and it immediately went completely nose down and crashed on the other side of the trees."

A fourth witness was driving along a road that was northwest of the airport. As she was doing so, she saw "something fall from the sky" northwest of the road. "It was metallic and long and skinny," and 10 to 20 feet in length.

Subsequent searches of the area, which were wooded, did not yield any items matching the witness's description.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the helicopter impacted the ground about 900 feet from the approach end of MPV runway 17 and 360 feet beyond a tree line. Debris, consisting of pieces of cabin door plexiglass and a piece of the horizontal stabilator, were located about 40 feet beyond the treeline. Additional debris was located 50 to 60 feet forward of, and 30 to 40 feet to the right of the main wreckage.

No tree strikes were found near the accident site.

The inspector also noted that the postcrash fire had consumed the composite fuselage and most of the aluminum tail boom. In addition, there were no ground scars to indicate sliding or skidding along the ground.

The main rotor and flight control systems displayed evidence of being forced downwards. The main rotor blades exhibited fire damage, but very little impact damage, and there was no notable damage to the main rotor blade leading edges.

The tail boom was melted from the fuselage attach point to 2 to 3 feet forward of the tail rotor gearbox. The tail rotor gearbox turned freely. The tail rotor blades were broken near their bases, and one blade was impaled in the ground.

Pieces of the tail rotor drive belt were visible in the tail rotor gearbox area, and the engine drive belts were mostly melted. There was no evidence of a melted or burned main rotor drive belt, although the inspector noted that it could have been consumed in the postcrash fire.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane. On his latest FAA third class medical certificate application, dated December 6, 2008, the indicated 1,550 hours of flight time.

The pilot also held a "repairman experimental aircraft builder" certificate for the helicopter.

Weather, recorded at the airport at 1151, included clear skies and winds from 180 degrees true at 8 knots.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.