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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ARH Crash Probe Clears Engine, Cites Fuel Starvation

Engine failure wasn't the reason one of four Bell Helicopter/U.S. Army ARH-70A prototypes crashed Feb. 21, nor was fuel contamination or exhaustion. Fuel starvation was. That's based on the factual findings of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board on the crash. The findings have resulted in a change to the ARH design to prevent a recurrence. The No. 4 ARH prototype lost power about 20 min into its maiden flight. The NTSB investigated because the aircraft was a Bell asset that hadn't been turned over to the Army and carried an N-number registration; the Army’s Combat Readiness Center (the renamed safety center) participated in the probe, as did Bell and Honeywell, which developed the HTS900 engine for the ARH program. An official finding of probable cause must await a formal review and vote by the NTSB's presidentially appointed members. After the power loss, the pilots autorotated skillfully to the fourth green of a Mansfield, Texas golf course a few miles from Bell's Xworx test facility. But the aircraft skids dug into the soft, wet ground and the ARH rolled over. The pilots were unhurt, but the aircraft was totaled. The ARH program is more than a year behind schedule and the Army has told the Bell-led contractor team to come up with a plan within a month to salvage the program or face its termination.  For related news
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