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N297CA accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 38.751111°N, 90.371389°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city St Louis, MO
38.629100°N, 90.205400°W
12.3 miles away
Tail number N297CA
Accident date 23 May 2013
Aircraft type Bell 206B
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 23, 2013, about 2100 central daylight time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N297CA performed an autorotation to a forced landing at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport (KSUS), St. Louis, Missouri. The flight instructor and commercial rated pilot were not injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to GM Leasing Co., LLC and operated by Air-Evac Lifeteam, O'Fallon, Missouri, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a training flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that operated on a company flight plan.

The flight instructor reported that he was demonstrating a normal takeoff. As the helicopter accelerated to about 50 knots and was 20 feet in altitude, there was a loud bang. The helicopter yawed left, and then the instructor elected to perform an autorotation landing with forward airspeed on the taxiway.

During an initial visual inspection of the airframe, no observable damage was noted. Inspection of the engine, revealed a case breach on the axial compressor. Further examination of the helicopter's airframe revealed substantial damage to the aft fuselage and main rotor system.

A review of the helicopter's Rolls-Royce 250-C20B engine maintenance records, revealed that the engine had 15,179.6 hours TSN (time since new) and 4,948 cycles TSN. The engine's compressor had 13,874 hours (TSN) and the compressor rotor stage 1-6 wheels had 1,185.3 hours (TSN) and were Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) replacement parts.

The examination of the engine revealed several areas where the compressor case had been breached by fragments exiting the engine. Further examination of the stage 1 compressor blades revealed the blades were in place and in good condition. The stage two blades were present, but exhibited varying degrees of trailing edge damage. All stage 3 through 6 blades had separated at the blade root. The 3, 4, and 6 compressor stator vanes were completely separated and ingested. Stage 2 and 5 vanes were present, but bent and/or torn in the direction of rotation.

The compressor impeller was intact, but had leading edge damage 360-degrees around the disk. Several impeller blades exhibited blade tip bending, consistent with debris ingestion.

The axial compressor rotor and stator was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) materials lab, in Washington, D.C. Examination of the 3rd stage wheel found a blade root that had about a 54% progressive cracking area, consistent with fatigue. The examination also found indications of fatigue on stage 3 through 6 blades.

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power due to the separation of compressor blades, which resulted from fatigue cracking.

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