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McDonnell Douglas Helicopters Hughes 369E, G-KSWI
While flying in the cruise at an altitude of 2,200 ft amsl, it is probable that the helicopter sustained a mechanical failure that resulted in the loss of pitch control to one of the tail rotor blades. During the subsequent attempt to land in a field, the airspeed reduced to the point where directional control of the helicopter seems to have been insufficient to maintain heading. At a height of approximately 50 ft, the helicopter yawed rapidly to the right before the rotation ceased and it developed a high rate of descent. The helicopter struck the ground heavily and was destroyed. The pilot survived but sustained serious injuries. There was no fire.
The investigation established the presence of fatigue cracks emanating from corrosion pits on the tail rotor blade pitch horn on one blade, which led to its failure. Also, the associated tail rotor pitch link had failed. The sequence of the two failures could not be established but either could explain the helicopter’s behaviour before it crashed. Neither the failed section of this tail rotor blade pitch horn nor the associated pitch link were recovered from the accident site.
Four Safety Recommendations are made.
A **correction **was issued concerning this report and was printed in the March 2012 Bulletin.