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Whose Fault Is This One


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NTSB Identification: MIA03LA166

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation

Accident occurred Wednesday, August 20, 2003 in Odessa, FL

Aircraft: Robinson Robinson R22 Beta, registration: N129YE

Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.


This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.


On August 20, 2003, about 1252 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R22 Beta, N129YE registered to Heli-Venture, Inc., operated by Clearwater Air Park, Inc., landed hard during a practice 180-degree autorotation at the Tampa Bay Executive Airport, Odessa, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 check-ride flight. The helicopter was substantially damaged and the pilot-in-command/certified flight instructor applicant (CFI applicant) was not injured. The designated pilot examiner (DPE) sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 1200 from the Tampa Bay Executive Airport.


The CFI applicant stated that during the flight portion of the exam, the examiner insisted that he demonstrate a 180-degree practice autorotation with power recovery. After positioning the helicopter abeam the intended autorotation spot, he asked the DPE if he was ready; the DPE instructed him to proceed further downwind. Once he was positioned further downwind he again asked the DPE if he was ready, the DPE responded yes. The CFI applicant counted to three, pushed the collective down, and then began the autorotation. While heading downwind with airspeed and rpm's stable, he started his turn after completing about 90-degrees change in heading; the DPE said that he was going too slow and grabbed the controls. The DPE then pushed the cyclic forward and stopped the turn, continued the descent, and the helicopter was landed hard sliding across the runway onto a grassy area. The CFI applicant later stated that the DPE did not apply throttle input when he took the controls.


The DPE stated that after doing several straight-in autorotations, the student pilot was attempting the first 180-degree autorotation. Upon entering the turn, the rotor speed and airspeed was allowed to decrease by the CFI applicant and he took the controls to prevent the helicopter from contacting the ground nose low. The DPE leveled the helicopter and turned toward the hard surface; the helicopter contacted the runway in a level attitude at about a 45-degree angle to the centerline and then skidded about 100 feet just onto the grass. The DPE also stated that as he attempted to recover, it seemed as though the engine did not respond; however, he was not sure if it had stopped since this all happened within a second or two.

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Who's fault is this one?

It depends who you ask, I guess. The only thing that seems clear is that there was a lack of CRM going on in that little cockpit.

Wonder if the candidate passed the checkride? :overhere:

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  • 4 years later...
<font color='#000000'>

It depends who you ask, I guess. The only thing that seems clear is that there was a lack of CRM going on in that little cockpit.

Wonder if the candidate passed the checkride? :overhere:</font>


Based on the CFI's description it sounds like the DPE is to blame. It sounds like when he "rolled on" he didnt doll on far enought to let the govenor catch. That seems much more likely than some sort of mechanical failure that the pilot just happened to not notice.

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