Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA22LA192

Cedar Key, FL, USA

Aircraft #1




The pilot was performing aerial application flights during which he returned to the landing zone five times to receive additional product. He recalled spending the majority of his time troubleshooting a spray rate system issue and was not paying attention to the fuel level while ground personnel were loading the product. During climb out on the final spray, the engine lost all power. During the subsequent autorotation and hard landing on a gravel road, the tail boom and tail rotor drive shaft sustained substantial damage. The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter and that upon landing he noticed that the fuel gauge showed empty. Examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector found that a total of 2.5 gallons of uncontaminated Jet A fuel was able to be sumped from the helicopter’s fuel system. Residual and trace amounts of fuel were discovered in the engine driven fuel pump and fuel filters. The helicopter was not equipped with an optional low fuel light. The helicopter flight manual advised to avoid uncoordinated turns and maneuvers with fewer than 20 gallons. It is likely that while the pilot maneuvered out of the field following his final spray, the engine was starved of fuel, which resulted in the loss of engine power. The operator following the accident amended their ground personnel training manual to require that both the ground personnel and the pilot ‘confirm fuel quantity OK’ prior to each takeoff.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’s improper fuel planning during agricultural spraying operations, which resulted in fuel starvation, a loss of engine power, and a hard landing following an autorotation.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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