Cat. 3 investigation report: report concerning an occurrence with limited consequences, based on one or more statements not independently validated by the BEA.
This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in December 2021. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.
Note: The following information is principally based on statements made by the instructor. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.
1 - HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT
The instructor and the student pilot took off from Rochefort-Saint-Aignan aerodrome at about 10:00 for an instruction flight. The instruction session started with exercises close to the ground: entering hover, landing on a tarmac parking area, landing on grass, forward flight and rotations.
For the second part of the instruction session, the crew went to Marennes aerodrome. The student pilot flew over the facilities at 1,500 ft then carried out a runway circuit for
He joined the downwind leg at 1,500 ft to begin an autorotation exercise. The instructor told the student during the base leg that he would have to start the exercise himself, stating that the aiming point was in the middle of the runway. Having started the exercise late, the student pilot reduced his airspeed to keep the aiming point, which resulted in the sink rate of the helicopter increasing during the autorotation. The student pilot flared late and too sharply causing the tail rotor to touch the runway. The instructor then took back control of the helicopter until it came to rest on the ground.
2 - ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
2.1 Student pilot information
On the day of the accident, the 61-year-old student pilot was in instruction to obtain a PPL(H) helicopter pilot licence. He had started his training in June 2020 and had logged 10 hours of instruction flight. He had also held a PPL(A) aeroplane licence since 1989 and had logged 407 aeroplane flight hours.
2.2 Instructor information
The instructor held a commercial helicopter pilot licence CPL(H) and an instructor rating FI(H) valid at the time of the occurrence. He had logged 728 flight hours, 220 hours of which were on type.
In his opinion, the student pilot's flying ability and progress met or even exceeded requirements. He believed that a first autorotation exercise with dual controls would have helped consolidate the student pilot's skills and that if he had kept his hand resting on the controls during the final phases of the exercise, he might have been able to take back the controls more quickly.
 Unpaved runway measuring 770 m x 50 m.