April 9, 2010, Santa Maria, Calif., Bell 222U


At about 0124 Pacific time, the helicopter was substantially damaged while preparing for takeoff. Neither the airline transport pilot nor the two flight nurses were injured. Visual night conditions prevailed.

One of the tail rotor blades had been strapped to the helicopters tail boom. Following the pilots engine-start operation, as the tail rotor began rotating, the tie-down strap broke. Unaware of the mishap, the pilot flew to a nearby hospital, landing at about 0131. Just prior to the planned 0242 departure, one of flight nurses observed material attached to the helicopters tail rotor area and brought it to the pilots attention. The pilot shut down the engine and examined the helicopter. Nylon webbing was found wrapped around the tail rotors drive shaft. The pilot removed the material and inspected the helicopter, then took off on an hour-long flight. Later, with better illumination, the pilot observed damage to a tail rotor blade and other anomalies. The helicopter was immediately taken out of service for repairs.


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