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N27AT accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location 45.148055°N, 93.538889°W
Nearest city Corcoran, MN
45.095242°N, 93.547458°W
3.7 miles away
Tail number N27AT
Accident date 23 Dec 2012
Aircraft type Robinson Helicopter R22 Beta
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On December 23, 2012, about 1030 central standard time, a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N27AT, sustained substantial damage when the tail and main rotor struck a parked trailer after landing at a private residence near Corcoran, Minnesota. The helicopter subsequently caught fire and burned. The private pilot received minor injuries. The helicopter sustained damage to the structure supporting the main rotor gearbox and tail boom, the main rotors, the main rotor gearbox and the cabin. The aircraft was registered to the pilot and another individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from a private heliport near St. Michael, Minnesota about 1025.

The pilot reported that the landing was executed to a large concrete pad that had been poured on his son's property for a building to be erected. He said that there were tarps covering the north half of the pad and he saw boards and stones holding the tarps in position. There was a trailer parked on the west side of the pad. He elected to land on the southeast part of the pad and approached from the north. The pilot stated that during his landing approach, he stopped and hovered about 10 feet above the ground to make sure the tarps would not move due to the helicopter's downwash. He said that he proceeded to make a normal landing and as he was preparing to shut down, the helicopter rotated about 30 to 40 degrees counterclockwise. The pilot applied corrective pedal input with no response. The helicopter then rotated about three full revolutions before the tail boom and main rotors struck a trailer that was parked near the west end of the concrete pad. Subsequently, the main rotor gearbox separated and came to rest in the passenger seat. The fuel tanks ruptured and a fire erupted. The pilot was able to extricate himself from the burning helicopter and remove his clothing that was on fire. He suffered burns to his face and head and experienced soreness for several days following the accident.

Examination of the accident scene revealed several cuts in the tarps that were covering the north half of the concrete landing pad. The area where the cuts were found corresponded with the area where the tail rotor of the helicopter would have been positioned for the described landing. The area to the south of the pad was clear of obstructions. Examination of the helicopter and control systems was conducted and no preimpact anomalies were noted, however, the examination was limited due to the extensive damage from the impact and the postimpact fire.

The pilot reported the wind as variable at 2 knots.

During a telephone conversation with the pilot, he stated that he did not believe that the tarp could have struck the tail rotor. He mentioned that he did see 2 small rips in the tarp in the area where the tail rotor would have been, but he also mentioned that the tarps had many small rips throughout.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s improper decision to land the helicopter in a position that placed the tail rotor near tarps, which resulted in the tarps being lifted into the tail rotor, subsequent tail rotor damage, a loss of tail rotor authority, and an uncommanded tail rotor rotation.

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