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Pilot Walks Into Rotor

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This NTSB report was sent to me this morning. Happened this past November...



On November 9, 2007, about 1610 central standard time, a parked Bell 407, N555BH, was undamaged

when the pilot was struck by its turning main rotor while approaching the helicopter at

Moore-Murrell Airport (MOR), Morristown, Tennessee. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally

injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR

Part 91 local positioning flight.

According to one of the passengers on the previous flight, after they had arrived at MOR, the pilot

taxied the helicopter to the fuel pumps. The pilot later realized that the fuel pumps were for

aviation gasoline and not for jet fuel, so he advised the passengers that he would assist them in

unloading, and then would reposition the helicopter to the other fuel pump. After carrying the

passengers' bags and using the restroom at the fixed base operator, the pilot returned to the

helicopter. While walking toward the idling, unoccupied helicopter, the pilot was struck by the

main rotor. The passenger, who was familiar with the operation of the accident helicopter,

subsequently approached and shut down the helicopter.

Another witness was inside the terminal, and watched the pilot as he walked toward the helicopter.

He initially thought that the pilot surely saw the turning main rotor blades, but then began to

yell "stop, stop, stop." The pilot continued forward, and walked into the path of the main rotor.

The witnesses recalled that the pilot was wearing a baseball cap and glasses, and that he walked

briskly toward the helicopter with his head lowered. The witness estimated that the main rotor

blades were tilted forward, and that the rotor blade tip path was about 5 1/2 feet off the ground.

At the time he thought to himself, "those rotor blades are sure tilted forward." He also estimated

that the winds were "gusting" to about 10 knots.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, postaccident examination of the

helicopter revealed that the cyclic friction lock was not tightened. The hydraulic system switch

was in the "armed/on" position; however, the passenger stated that he had toggled the switch to

this position when he shut down the helicopter. The passenger further stated that the pilot's

normal procedure for unloading passengers while the helicopter idled was to turn the hydraulic

system off.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with multiple ratings including rotorcraft-helicopter

and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second class medical certificate was issued on

August 8, 2007. On that date the pilot reported 7,500 total hours of flight experience. According

to the passenger, the pilot was a company pilot since 1982.

The weather conditions reported at MOR, at 1556, included winds from 260 degrees at 8 knots.

According to the FAA inspector, these winds equated to a quartering tailwind relative to the

helicopter's orientation on the ramp.

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Sad to see, but didn't we have a discussion a few months back about the pros and cons of leaving a running machine unattended?? Some say if you leave the machine even for a second--SHUT IT DOWN!! Others, well--- U.S.F.S has a policy. You do not leave the Pilots seat until the rotors have stopped moving. Probably a very good policy! I can think of many times over the years when a machine has eaten itself when there is nobody at the controls. When the h-ll will we learn???

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