Accidents: Helicopter suffers damage in loss of engine cowling

 - July 1, 2009, 6:38 AM

Bell 222, Milliken, Colo., March 13, 2009–Several parts were seen to fall off the helicopter while in flight, landing in the observer’s yard and the neighboring property. The commercial pilot said he was flying in cruise at approximately 1,500 feet when he felt “a bump on the controls,” heard a bang and thought he had hit a bird. The pilot returned to his departure airport 45 miles away. Post-flight inspection revealed that the lower portion of the left engine cowling was missing and there was evidence that pieces of it had struck both main and tail rotor blades, causing substantial damage to the tail-rotor blades, yoke and gearbox. The pilot said he had conducted a preflight inspection before departure. An FAA inspector who examined the separated pieces of the engine cowling found no evidence of bird remains and no damage to the cowling latches that would have prevented their normal operation.