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Missing Hardware Could Lead to Catastrophic Helicopter Failures

In a previous accident, a passenger saw something fall off the helicopter as it spun around and crashed.

On June 8, 2022, at about 5:26, a Bell 407 helicopter was about 30 minutes into an air tour flight when it went into an uncontrolled spin near Kalea, Hawaii. The craft was severely damaged in the accident. The pilot and two passengers were seriously injured, and three others suffered minor injuries. Afterward, one passenger said she saw something fall off the helicopter as it spun around and crashed.

The crash triggered an NTSB investigation that found the tail boom about 762 ft away from the wreckage. The tail boom separated from the fuselage at the tail boom attach point.

Investigators found that the upper left attachment hardware, installed in one of four fittings that attaches the tail boom to the fuselage, was missing and never recovered. The remaining three fittings and hardware were found with the tail boom, but one had multiple fatigue fractures, and two had overload fractures.

On Friday, the NTSB urged the FAA and Transport Canada to require immediate and more frequent inspections of specific components on Bell 407 helicopters. Hundreds of these choppers are in service; police departments, air ambulance providers and tour operators, among others, use them. 

The NTSB believes that Bell 407 helicopters in service could have missing or fractured tail boom attachment hardware that could lead to a catastrophic failure.

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