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N5259N accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Schoolcraft, MI
42.114211°N, 85.637778°W
Tail number N5259N
Accident date 22 May 2001
Aircraft type Bell Helicopter 407
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 22, 2001, at 1700 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407, N5259N, was involved in a ground accident after landing on private property in Schoolcraft, Michigan. A passenger who had been seated in the rear of the helicopter was fatally injured when he was struck by the main rotor blade upon exiting the helicopter. The private pilot at the controls and a passenger were not injured. The helicopter was not damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 business flight had just landed and was preparing to depart for Scotts, Michigan, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions existed and no flight plan was filed.

The helicopter was flown to the rear seat passenger's residence and was landed on a low trailer, approximately 8 inches high. The trailer was used to move the helicopter in and out of a hangar. The pilot who had flown the helicopter to this location had been seated in the front right seat. The left front seat was occupied by another pilot and there was a passenger in the right rear seat. After landing, the right seat pilot and the passenger in the rear exited the helicopter. The left seat pilot reported he was holding the controls with the engine "idling" while he waited for the other two occupants to exit so he could fly the helicopter to another location. The left seat pilot reported that the passenger exited the right rear side of the helicopter. He reported the passenger reached up with right hand to grab his hat and as he neared the two-thirty position of the helicopter, one of the rotor blade hit him in the back of the head, he saw him falling forward. He reported the passenger fell to the ground and never moved. He reported he then shut down the engine and applied the rotor brake.

The pilot in the right front seat reported that he exited the helicopter and after the rear passenger exited, he went to the right rear door to retrieve a shirt. He reported that is when he heard a thud type noise. As he looked up he saw the left seat pilot pointing to the ground at which time he noticed the passenger on the ground.

All three occupants of the helicopter were related to each other. The fatally injured passenger was also a helicopter pilot. His family reported that he had been flying airplanes since the 1960's and had been a helicopter pilot since 1988. Both of the front seat pilots reported that the passenger, who was struck by the rotor blades, was "...always telling them how short those blades are when they come down as the aircraft is idling and to stay very low."

The helicopter was equipped with a "low skid" configuration. According to Bell Helicopter, the lowest point of the rotor blades in a static condition is 7 feet 9 inches above the ground. This condition would be with the cyclic in a neutral position. According to Federal Aviation Administration Medical Records, the passenger who was struck by the rotor blades was 6 feet, 1 inch tall.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot rated passenger failed to maintain clearance with the rotor blades as he exited the helicopter.

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