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N7036J accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 38.662222°N, 90.651944°W
Nearest city Chesterfield, MO
38.663108°N, 90.577067°W
4.0 miles away
Tail number N7036J
Accident date 05 Aug 2004
Aircraft type Robinson R44
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 5, 2004, at 1200 central daylight time, a Robinson R44, N7036J, piloted by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged when the main rotor contacted an open hangar door during takeoff and the helicopter subsequently impacted the ground at Spirit of St. Louis Airport (SUS), Chesterfield, Missouri. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot and 2 passengers reported no injuries. A third passenger reported minor injuries. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

In his written statement, the pilot reported that the flight was to be a local sightseeing flight for the 3 passengers. He added that the left side flight controls had been removed. The pilot stated that the helicopter was parked on the ramp approximately 35 feet from the hangar. He reported that the bi-fold hangar door was open and extended about 10 feet out over the ramp.

The pilot stated that after completing the normal start-up and pre-flight procedures, he established that the area was clear and picked up into a 6 - 8 foot hover. He reported that he began to move away from the hangar. He stated that as he did so the passenger in the left front seat turned to his right and "accidentally and inadvertently hit or bumped the counterweight portion of the cyclic as he turned."

The pilot stated that the helicopter drifted toward the open hangar door and before he could correct the drift the main rotor clipped the bottom edge of the door. He recalled: "I quickly maneuvered away from the hangar building and began to level the aircraft." The helicopter descended to the ramp. The subsequent hard landing caused the skids to collapse and the main rotor to sever the tail boom.

A ground witness to the accident submitted a video recording of the accident flight. Review of the recording revealed that after the helicopter lifted-off, it paused in a hover for a few seconds and then began to climb out, subsequently contacting the door. No drift toward the hangar building was observed prior to rotor blade contact with the door.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's inadequate preflight planning due to his selection of an unsuitable takeoff area and his failure to maintain clearance from the open hangar door. A contributing factor was the open hangar door.

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