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N210MH accident description

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Crash location 40.731667°N, 74.116667°W
Nearest city Kearny, NJ
40.768434°N, 74.145421°W
3.0 miles away
Tail number N210MH
Accident date 20 May 2015
Aircraft type Bell 206L-3
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 20, 2015, about 1030 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206L-3, N210MH, registered to Meridian Helicopters LLC and operated by New York Helicopter, was substantially damaged during a hard landing, following a loss of control in a hover at Helo Kearny Heliport (65NJ), Kearny, New Jersey. The commercial private pilot was not injured. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Downtown Manhattan/Wall Street Heliport (JRB), New York, New York.

The pilot reported that he fueled the helicopter at 65NJ and planned to position it to JRB. He entered a 20-foot hover prior to departure, in order to contact air traffic control (ATC) for clearance into the overlying airspace. Before he could radio ATC, the helicopter started to yaw to the right. The pilot attempted to correct the yaw with left pedal input; however, the helicopter spun three revolutions to the right. The pilot decreased throttle and increased collective, before the helicopter landed hard on the helipad while still yawing to the right. During the hard landing, the tail rotor contacted the ground and the main rotor contact the tail boom.

Subsequent examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that a section of the tail rotor driveshaft had separated. The inspector also noted damage to the tail boom, tail rotor blades, left vertical fin, and vertical stabilizer.

Review of maintenance records revealed that the operator had recently leased the helicopter. Prior to that, it had experienced a hard landing in Chile in 2010 and had not flown until the current registered owner recently purchased it. On April 28, 2015, a hard landing inspection was completed on the helicopter, followed by an annual inspection on April 30, 2015. As the helicopter was received by the registered owner partially disassembled, the accident tail rotor driveshaft was installed after the hard landing inspection, but before the annual inspection. The helicopter had been operated for about 26 hours from the time of those inspections, until the time of the accident.

The separated section of tail rotor driveshaft was examined at the manufacturer's facility under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The examination revealed that the No. 5 tail rotor driveshaft tube separated from its bonded flange adapter, where it had been secured by an adhesive. Due to the shaft tube spinning in the adapter after separation, the amount of adhesive remaining at the time of failure could not be determined to compare against the required amount of .003 inch bond line thickness. The remaining adhesive appeared disbonded and discolored, consistent with heat generated by the separated spinning driveshaft tube. Additionally, the separated section of driveshaft had been painted at some point after manufacture as the finish was different than what was applied during manufacture. When some of the paint was removed from the driveshaft tube, a red "X" was noted near the middle of the tube along with red numbers .004 and .024 on either end of the tube, consistent with runout numbers that were in exceedance of the manufacturer's maximum runout requirement of .003 inch. The examination also revealed areas where corrosion had been removed. Further, the format of the serial number (BTMK 00777) found etched on the driveshaft did not match any known records.

A representative of the registered owner of the helicopter reported that when he recently purchased the repaired helicopter from Marks Aviation Group, the driveshafts were received freshly painted. He further stated that when he inquired about that, he was told by the previous owner that the driveshafts were purchased at auction. The current owner did not receive serviceable tags with the driveshaft, but did receive an auction invoice; however, no serial numbers were listed on the invoice.

As such, the investigation was unable to determine if the separated driveshaft was the same driveshaft that was on the helicopter when it experienced a hard landing in 2010. As a result of the examination, the helicopter manufacturer submitted a suspected unapproved parts report to the FAA.

NTSB Probable Cause

The deliberate concealment and reuse of an unairworthy tail rotor driveshaft by unknown personnel, which resulted in an overstress separation at a bonded flange adapter as a result of driveshaft imbalance.

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