Preliminary Report: Loss of Power Downs AS 350B

 - October 2, 2006, 2:50 PM

Eurocopter AS 350B, Juneau, Alaska, July 25, 2005–The high-skid-equipped Squirrel was substantially damaged after a loss of engine power and subsequent emergency landing after taking off from the Juneau Airport. Temsco Helicopters of Juneau was operating the local VFR sightseeing flight to the Mendenhall Glacier. The commercial pilot and six passengers were not injured.

The helicopter was about 75 feet agl when another pilot reported seeing a puff of black smoke from the engine exhaust. The Squirrel pilot said that the helicopter yawed to the right, and the annunciator horn sounded for low rotor rpm. He entered an autorotation and attempted to cushion the touchdown, but the helicopter landed hard. The landing gear collapsed, and the tailboom was wrinkled. A post-touchdown fire was burning in the engine compartment as the occupants exited the helicopter. Investigators found damage to the power turbine module, shrapnel-like exit holes in the exhaust tube and twisting of the number-four engine module.