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Helicopter's hard landing in Hilo came after low-fuel emergency

An NTSB report offers new details in the July 25 incident

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 06:27 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2013

A tour helicopter that made a hard landing near Hilo Airport on July 25 broke its right front landing strut on impact, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

The landing, in which the helicopter tipped onto its right side in a field of grass, also damaged part of the tailboom and belly skin, says the report, issued Tuesday.

The pilot, Kyuwon Lee, 42, and four passengers, a family from Lucas, Texas, near Dallas, were uninjured and exited through the left side doors. They declined medical attention.

The McDonnell Douglas 369E, owned by K&S Helicopters Inc. of Kailua-Kona dba Paradise Helicopters, left Hilo on a round-trip tour flight at 12:43 p.m., but Lee aborted the tour when he noticed his fuel was low, the report says. At the time, the copter was at an altitude of 1,500 feet.

The pilot requested and received priority handling at the airport, but the engine quit before he could make it and he "autorotated" or maneuvered onto an uneven field off the approach end of runway 3. The right front landing gear collapsed as it rolled on its side.

The report does not address the fuel issue, but says there was no mechanical malfunction. The aircraft's last inspection was on July 10.

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bigman50 wrote:
He should have landed right away and not tried to make it to the airport .
on October 23,2013 | 10:30PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Even a four feet drop would have hurt?
on October 24,2013 | 06:21AM
mikethenovice wrote:
What! Even a Tesla car is more high tech that a helicopter.
on October 24,2013 | 06:20AM
mikethenovice wrote:
We do a Drop Test for a smartphone. We need a Drop Test for a helicopter on Youtube.
on October 24,2013 | 06:22AM
ENJacobo68 wrote:
As a pilot myself and a flight instructor as well, we aviators all know that it is the sole responsibility of the pilot in command (PIC) of a given aircraft, to ensure that the aircraft is properly inspected (Preflight Inspection) prior to any flight. As far as the emergency landing initiated by the pilot due to a complete engine flame out, I can venture to say that he probably had no choice but to land where he did. Picking a suitable landing site for a smoothe landing at a relatively low altitude especially in an autorotatative flight condition is a one time shot. Unfortunately the aircraft sustained significant damages which can be repaired or be replaced. But given the circumstances of the emergency landing, everyone on board got a chance to walked away unharmed and it's considered a good landing in any aviator's mind. What the cause was that led to this unfortunate accident is another issue.
on October 24,2013 | 06:52AM
CloudForest wrote:
Bad choice on the fuel issue - excellent result in the autorotation. No one got hurt is ALL that matters - live to fly another day.
on October 24,2013 | 07:47AM
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