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Bell 241ST Test Crew Forced To Make Emergency Landing

Pilot And Second Crewman Uninjured When Tail Rotor Apparently Failed

A Bell 214ST serving as a test bed for new helicopter technologies went down Tuesday in Ellis County, TX, after its tail rotor apparently failed.

The pilot and a second crewman were reportely uninjured after making what was described as a near-textbook-perfect emergency landing in the stricken aircraft, only to have it tip over onto its side when one of the wheels dug into the dirt of the cotton field where it went down. An initial investigation indicates that the aircraft lost power to the tail rotor, or it failed structurally.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the accident is being investigated by the NTSB and Bell Helicopter. Company spokesman William Schroeder would not provide any details about the accident or the technology being tested on the aircraft, which was originally designed in the late 1970s for use by the military. Bell had acquired the accident aircraft two years ago specifically for use as a test-bed for componants which may eventually show up in the 525 Relentless helicopter and other aircraft.

One company source told the paper that the aircraft was heavily instrumented and transmitting data to engineers on the ground when the accident occurred. He said the testing was likely focused on the main rotor, though that could not be confirmed. The tail rotor assembly had not been located as of late Tuesday.

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

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