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NTSB on ARH: Power Loss, A Tree, And Soft Terrain

By James T. McKenna | March 29, 2007

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has offered details of the flight sequence resulting in the crash Feb. 21 of the Bell Helicopter/U.S. Army ARH-70A Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter prototype. The investigation found that the 3,150-hr commercial test pilot was performing required test flight procedures on the maiden flight near Bell's Xworx test and development facility in Texas. He started a test flight sequence that called for configuration for slow flight in a shallow descent. At that point, the engine low fuel-pressure light lit, followed by an audio alert indicating a flameout. The pilot said he immediately started an autorotation requiring a 180-degree left turn to the best available landing area--the fairway of a local golf course. Aligned with the intended landing area, the pilot noted a tree on the selected approach path and applied collective to slow the descent. Once clear of the tree, he resumed the full autorotation. The helicopter touched down near level, with a slightly faster than normal forward speed. As it settled, the landing skids dug into the soft terrain. The aircraft rocked forward and the skid toes dug into the ground. The landing gear assembly then broke off at all four attachment points and the forward-looking infrared mount assembly struck the ground. The aircraft pivoted on its nose and came to rest on its left side. The test pilot and the rated observer were not injured and each egressed unassisted. Winds at the time were from 240 deg at 4 kt. Skies were clear. Visibility was 10 miles. The temperature was 77F. For related news

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