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Bell's ARH Damaged In Hard Landing On Golf Course, Pilots OK

Fore!

A test flight of Bell's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) prototype ended sooner, and more dramatically, than the company had hoped for Wednesday afternoon.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the helo's engine lost power about 30 minutes into the flight. The pilots attempted an auto-rotative emergency landing on the golf course at Walnut Creek Country Club in Mansfield, TX.

"It's not as bad as losing power but better than nothing," said Bell spokesman Mike Cox. "They saw the golf course and decided to land. A golf course was a great place to land because it’s flat and usually a place where there are no trees."

The helicopter impacted the ground and slid, which caused the landing skids to dig into the ground, leading the helo to flip onto its side. Witnesses say the helicopter struck trees as it came down, and the tail boom sheared off.

Both pilots were able to walk away from the accident, dazed but apparently OK.

The ARH-70A is a military variant of Bell's commercial 407 helicopter. As Aero-News reported, the prototype made its first flight in July 2006.

Cox said the FAA will investigate. The wreckage will then be moved back to Bell's XworX facility in Arlington, TX.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 445HR        Make/Model: B445      Description: BELL 445 ROTORCRAFT
  Date: 02/21/2007     Time: 2045

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

LOCATION
  City: MANSFIELD   State: TX   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  N445HR, A BELL 445 ROTORCRAFT, EXPERIENCED AN ENGINE FAILURE, AUTOROTATED
  TO LANDING ON A GOLF COURSE AND ROLLED OVER, NO INJURIES REPORTED,
  MANSFIELD, TX

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: GYK METAR 2050Z 24004KT 10SM SKC 25/M01 A2997

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  Departed: HURST, TX                   Dep Date:    Dep. Time:     
  Destination: HURST, TX                Flt Plan:              Wx Briefing: 
  Last Radio Cont: 
  Last Clearance: 

  FAA FSDO: FORT WORTH, TX  (SW19)                Entry date: 02/22/2007

FMI: www.bellhelicopter.com, www.faa.gov

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