May 11, 2010, Abingdon, Va., Bell 407


The helicopter, operated by the Virginia State Police, was substantially damaged during an emergency landing following an engine failure and autorotation at about 1335 Eastern time. The flight instructor and the commercial pilot were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the public-use flight.

The flights purpose was to provide aircraft orientation training for the pilot. As they approached a practice field at about 250 feet agl and 80 knots, they heard a “very loud growl,” and the engine “surged” twice. The “Fadec Degrade” caution light illuminated, and an aural “Engine Out” alert sounded. The CFI took control of the helicopter and performed a 180-degree turn and an autorotation to the field. The crew shut down the helicopter and exited normally. Both landing skids were splayed outboard. The upper three inches of the left vertical stabilizer was missing, and one main rotor blade had paint transfer marks consistent with stabilizer contact.


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