When The Helicopter Was About 2 Miles West Of TMB, It Yawed To The Right And Then Began Spinning Out Of Control
Location: Miami, FL Accident Number: ERA24FA075
Date & Time: December 27, 2023, 13:00 Local Registration: N757TB
Aircraft: Hughes Helicopters Inc 369E Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal
On December 27, 2023, about 1300 eastern standard time, a Hughes Helicopters Inc. 369E, N757TB, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Miami, Florida. The pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger was not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.
According to the passenger, who was the pilot’s daughter, the purpose of the flight was to drop off her brother at Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Myers, Florida. They departed Miami Executive Airport (TMB), Miami, Florida, about 1030. They arrived at FMY with no issues and were on the ground for about 30 minutes before departing to return to TMB. She further stated that the return flight was normal, and she did not notice anything; however, when the helicopter was about 2 miles west of TMB, it yawed to the right and then began spinning out of control. The helicopter then impacted the water and her door opened. She exited the helicopter and swam to shore.
The helicopter was located at the bottom of a canal at depth of about 20 ft. The helicopter impacted the water in a near vertical decent resulting in damage to the bottom of the helicopter. The tailboom was fractured forward of the vertical stabilizer and was located in the canal about 450 ft from the main wreckage. Flight control continuity was observed to all primary flight controls and through the fractured tailboom.
The engine remained securely attached to the respective mount struts on the engine gearbox. The aft strut on the left side mount had fractured at the rod end connection with the strut tube. The drive shaft assembly was intact from the engine gearbox connection, through the overrunning clutch assembly, and to the main rotor transmission. Functionality of the over-running clutch assembly was confirmed through the sequence of power turbine rotation. A borescope was used to examine the combustion liner, nozzle shield, and first-stage gas producer turbine nozzle and blades. All of the associated components appeared visually unremarkable.
The main rotor and main transmission remained installed on the helicopter. All main rotor head components remained installed with no evidence of separation or fractures. The main rotor blades were cut near their root ends to facilitate recovery of the wreckage. The main rotor blades did not exhibit fragmentation, and all were full length. The main rotor blades exhibited chordwise deformation, with two blades exhibiting significant chordwise and downward deformation near their root ends. At the trailing edge of one blade, the upper and lower skins had splayed open at the tip end.
The wreckage was retained for further examination