This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On August 1, 2012, about 0900 eastern daylight time a Sikorsky S-58JT, N126GW, operated by Aircrane Inc., was substantially damaged when it incurred a failure of a tailrotor blade in Middletown, Delaware.
The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. No flight plan had been filed for the local commercial flight conducted under Title14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133.
According to the pilot, on the morning of the accident flight, he had already flown two other external load "lifts" to place two 2,900 pound air conditioning units on the roof of a warehouse. On the third lift, the helicopter began to vibrate and started to rotate about its vertical axis. The pilot attempted to stop the rotation but could not, so he dropped the cable with the attached air conditioner onto the roof, and moved the helicopter away from the warehouse. He then picked up forward speed, turned to the right to line up with a street, and did a roll on landing.
Post accident examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the entire aft portion of one of the tail rotor blades was missing. Further examination revealed that it had separated at a point just aft of the broken tailrotor blade's spar where a bond line existed.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for helicopter and instrument-helicopter. He also held type ratings for the S-58 and S-61. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on January 3, 2012. He reported that he had accrued 16,500 total hours of flight experience, of which, 7,000 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.
According to FAA and maintenance records, the helicopter was manufactured in 1959. Its last continuous airworthiness inspection was completed on July 31, 2012. At the time of the accident the helicopter had accrued 11,064.7 hours of operation.
The separated aft portion of the broken tailrotor blade was later recovered from the roof of the warehouse by the operator. All four tailrotor blades including the seperated aft portion from the broken blade were retained by the NTSB for further examination.