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N719HT accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 44.497222°N, 123.289444°W
Nearest city Corvallis, OR
44.564566°N, 123.262044°W
4.8 miles away
Tail number N719HT
Accident date 07 Apr 2009
Aircraft type Sikorsky CH-54B
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On April 7, 2009, about 1530 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky CH-54B (Skycrane), N719HT, was substantially damaged following touchdown at the Corvallis Municipal Airport, Corvallis, Oregon, when the main rotor blades diverted from their normal rotation plane and severed the tail rotor drive shaft. The helicopter was operated by Helicopter Transport Services, Corvallis. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan had been filed. Neither the airline transport certificated pilot, who held a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate, nor the second crewmember-pilot was injured during the instructional/proficiency flight. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 and originated from Corvallis about 1500.

The CFI reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that the helicopter had operated normally prior to the mishap, although a vibration was felt during ground operation. Therefore, the collective position was kept up about 2 inches, which seemed to reduce the ground vibrations.

After practicing four or five landings from a hover, the pilot, who was receiving instruction, landed to adjust his seat position. He handed off the controls to the CFI. The CFI lowered the collective to the full down position, in preparation for the seat adjustment. The terrain on which he landed was sloped. The CFI reported that as he "lowered the collective to the full down position, a vibration was noticed, followed by a loud 'bang', followed by severe vibrations. An emergency shut down followed, with immediate application of the rotor brake." After exiting the helicopter, it was determined that the number 5 & 6 tail rotor drive shaft sections had departed the helicopter, with damage to 2 of the 6 main rotor blades.

During the subsequent examination of the helicopter, the CFI verbally reported to the Safety Board investigator that the accident occurred when the main rotor blades diverged from their normal plane of rotation and contacted the tail rotor drive shaft.

The operator's director of maintenance verbally reported to the Safety Board investigator that maintenance of the helicopter was by the company's mechanics. During maintenance, the bellcranks that connect to the control rods had been incorrectly installed (in a reversed manner) thereby allowing the swashplate to travel outside of its designed range.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel, who examined the wreckage and interviewed the operator's mechanics, stated they were unable to ascertain the date on which the subject bellcranks had been installed, but it appeared to have been several years prior to the accident date. To reduce the likelihood for recurrence of this type of accident, the operator modified its maintenance procedure regarding bellcrank installation.

NTSB Probable Cause

The improper assembly of main rotor blade control components by the operator's maintenance personnel, which resulted in the main rotor blade's divergent path and their contact with the tail rotor drive shaft during ground operation following landing.

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