Suddenly There Was A “Bump And Dip” In The Tail Which Was Immediately Followed By Severe And Massive Vibration

Location: Fort Myers, FL Accident Number: ERA23LA011
Date & Time: October 8, 2022, 18:00 Local Registration: N5DF
Aircraft: Bell Textron Canada Ltd 505 Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On October 8, 2022, about 1800 eastern daylight time, a Bell 505 helicopter, N5DF, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Fort Myers, Florida. The private pilot and one passenger had serious injuries, and two passengers had minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot, through his attorney, reported that he was approaching a landing zone (LZ) at Fire Station 75 to drop off his three passengers. About 150 feet above the ground, he noticed flags near the LZ and elected to go around to make another approach to better align with the light wind. He added power to initiate the go around and suddenly there was a “bump and dip” in the tail which was immediately followed by severe and massive vibration and shaking of the helicopter, with an  uncommanded left yaw.

The helicopter then pitched up and rolled violently. The pilot was unable to regain control and the helicopter crashed near the LZ, in a ditch.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor, with the outboard sections of the blades separating during impact. The main rotor hub separated from the transmission. The tail boom broke free of the fuselage and the tail rotor separated from the tail boom. One of the passengers reported that the engine continued to run after the crash.

The helicopter was manufactured in 2021. The last maintenance entry in the aircraft records was a lubrication service on July 7, 2022, at a total aircraft time of 182 hours. The wreckage was retained for further examination.