Investigation led by NTSB - United States

Accident to the Airbus SA342 registered N342J on 21/06/2020 at Minden, Nevada

Data issued from the NTSB preliminary report:

On June 21, 2020, about 1330 Pacific daylight time, an Aerospatiale SA-324J helicopter, N342J, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident at the Minden-Tahoe Airport (MEV), Minden, Nevada. The pilot and passenger received minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. According to the pilot, he had filled the helicopter with fuel and operated the helicopter for about 1 hour 15 minutes. During the flight the pilot noticed the engine exhaust gas temperature at about 50° higher than usual. During the approach, on the return flight to the airport, he descended to about 50 ft above ground level (agl) and continued to his intended touchdown point. While over a level area, at about 25 ft agl and at 10 to 15 knots indicated airspeed, he lowered the collective to initiate the landing. Immediately after lowering the collective, the engine lost all power. The pilot entered a hovering autorotation and applied collective pitch to cushion the landing. The helicopter struck the ground hard and a postcrash fire ensued. The occupants egressed the helicopter unassisted. A witness stated that he was at the airfield outside of his hangar. He noticed the helicopter depart the airport. About two hours later, he heard the helicopter approaching the airport and watched it until it was about 60 ft agl approaching to land. The witness walked inside his hangar and from inside, he heard three or four pops in rapid succession followed by a louder, deeper sound. He then heard the helicopter hit the ground with a loud impact. He went to the door to observe the helicopter on fire. He then ran to the helicopter to render aid to the two occupants exiting the helicopter. The helicopter came to rest on the airport, about one quarter mile northwest of the approach end of runway 34, at an elevation of about 4700 ft above mean sea level (msl). All major components were located in an area of about 50 x 50 square feet. A postimpact fire consumed the fuselage and the tail boom. The engine, transmission, main rotor blades and the fenestron anti-torque system were recovered to a secure facility for further examination