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N8968F accident description

Kansas map... Kansas list
Crash location 37.647500°N, 97.384444°W
Nearest city Wichita, KS
37.692236°N, 97.337545°W
4.0 miles away
Tail number N8968F
Accident date 07 Apr 2003
Aircraft type Schweizer 269C
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On April 7, 2003, at 1545 central daylight time, a Schweizer 269C helicopter, N8968F, piloted by a flight instructor and dual student, was substantially damaged during a run-on landing following a practice autorotation at the Westport Airport (71K), Wichita, Kansas. During the landing, the helicopter flipped forward causing the main rotor to contact the tail boom. The dual student was a commercial pilot and was receiving instruction in preparation for the flight instructor practical test. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight instructor reported no injuries. The dual student reported minor injuries.

The local flight reportedly began at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT) approximately 1430. They completed hover practice and autorotations at ICT prior to departing for 71K approximately 1500.

According to the instructor's statement, after completing several practice autorotations, an autorotation to a run-on landing was conducted. He stated it went as planned "until the last 8 feet of the ground run." He reported that "the right skid caught on the sod surface" and the helicopter rotated forward "lifting the tailboom into the path of the main-rotor, which severed the tailboom." The aircraft turned to the left approximately 90 degrees and came to a rest. He noted that the sod surface was dry and was "consistent throughout the entire touchdown area."

The dual student stated they had "completed 4 straight in auto's to the ground on runway 35 at Westport." He added: "We elected to use the grass runway to do the auto's to help soften the touchdowns. The instructor was demonstrating a full touch down auto to the ground with a run on landing ... . The grass was smooth and firm, condition dry. The auto was successful and touch down light." He noted the aircraft slid approx 90 feet. "As [the helicopter] slowed, the nose pitched down, pitching the tail boom up into the rotor system. The main rotor struck the tail boom just ahead of the tail rotor gear box severing the tail boom." He also noted that the helicopter did not decelerate very rapidly until the end of the run.

Neither pilot reported any malfunctions with the helicopter or engine prior to the accident.

The pilot's flight manual included a caution stating: "Avoid rapid lowering of collective pitch control after ground contact."

The Federal Aviation Administraion Rotorcraft Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21, specifies that when conducting a running landing, "due to the increased ground friction when you lower the collective, the helicopter's nose might pitch forward. Exercise caution not to correct this pitching movement with aft cyclic since this movement could result in the rotor making contact with the tailboom."

NTSB Probable Cause

The premature lowering of the collective and the improper use of the cyclic during the run-on landing performed by the flight instructor, as well as the main rotor/tail boom contact. Contributing factors were the intentional run-on landing, the grass landing surface and the severed tail boom.

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