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N412TS accident description

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Crash location 35.451667°N, 85.065000°W
Nearest city Graysville, TN
35.447014°N, 85.084400°W
1.1 miles away
Tail number N412TS
Accident date 27 Jul 2008
Aircraft type Sands Thomas E Rotorway 162
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 27, 2008, about 1620 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Rotorway 162F, 412TS, was destroyed when it was consumed in a postcrash fire following a forced landing in Graysville, Tennessee. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight, which departed a helipad on the pilot's property in Dayton, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to maintenance records, the pilot purchased the helicopter from the builder about 6 weeks before the accident. At the time of purchase, the helicopter had flown 42.6 hours, and at the time of the accident, the helicopter had flown 57 hours.

According to the pilot, he performed a "detailed," "panels off" preflight inspection of the helicopter prior to the accident flight. He added 5 gallons of fuel, and after startup, performed a "standard run up and checks per Rotorway checklist." The pilot then lifted the helicopter into a hover, made right and left 360-degree pedal turns and performed sideways hovers. Because the helicopter was new, the pilot then landed it, shut it down, and performed a second inspection that included belt tensions.

The pilot subsequently restarted the helicopter, performed another run up per the checklist, and departed his helipad, climbing the helicopter to 1,500 feet indicated, or about 600 feet above the ground. The pilot then flew the helicopter in a straight line for about 2 miles, then initiated a left turn. During the turn, the pilot noted a low frequency vibration, and an "unusual back pressure on the cyclic." As the helicopter came out of the turn, the back pressure to the cyclic increased. At the time, the indicated airspeed was 75 mph, and all gauges were "in the green." As the helicopter continued straight and level, back pressure continued to increase, and the pilot needed more forward cyclic to maintain airspeed and level flight.

The pilot subsequently climbed the helicopter to 1,750 feet, and reversed course back toward his home. After completing the turn, the helicopter initiated a "sudden and uncommanded nose up attitude," and rolled to the left. The helicopter then became unresponsive to the pilot's inputs, and continued to roll left, with the nose dropping so low that the pilot was looking at the ground.

The helicopter continued a counterclockwise rotation, which the pilot was finally able to arrest utilizing collective, throttle, and "forcibly" pulling and pushing on the cyclic as needed. The pilot then performed a "quasi-controllable" and "wobbly" autorotation to the ground, and was able to touch down on the skids, heading down-slope on a hill, with no forward or side motion. The helicopter then rolled over on its right side, and the pilot smelled fuel, which then ignited as he exited through the broken windshield.

According to the on-scene Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, because the helicopter was so badly consumed by the fire, a thorough examination was not possible.

NTSB Probable Cause

A loss of control for undetermined reasons.

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