Cleveland Ohio Police Officer Art Fantroy executed a near textbook auto rotational landing maneuver when the engine in his MD500E helicopter suddenly decided to stop working. Pilot/Officer Fantroy was not injured and the helicopter suffered no damage during the emergency landing on a farm 20 miles south of Mansfield Oh.
Fantroy was apparently ferrying the helicopter to Columbus for routine maintenance when the incident occurred. Fantroy previously flew helicopters in both Vietnam and in the first Gulf War.
MD Helicopters enjoy a strong following among the pilots who fly them. It is a rugged and versatile helicopter design that has been proven over time. If you are going to have an engine out in a helicopter, this is a good one to be in. They are known in the helicopter industry as one of the most crash worthy helicopters you can strap yourself into. What does that mean? That means that if you screw up the engine out, auto rotation, emergency landing procedure, you will still probably walk away from it with all of your extremities intact.
With that said there seems to be something amiss right now with the particular engines in the MD500E. Columbus Ohio PD has had two engine out incidents in this same make and model helicopter, within the last year or so. Both of those pilots also walked away with either none or very minor injuries, (one helicopter rolled onto it's side as a result of landing in soft or muddy terrain.)
During a recent 100 hour inspection our mechanics discovered a cracked fuel nozzle in our own 500E which would have eventually resulted in a catastrophic engine failure at some point in the near future. Excellent job by our maintenance division in discovering this fault!
Kudos again to Officer Fantroy for coming out of this emergency unscathed, and for saving the City of Cleveland a lot of money during this down turned economy, (no damage to the helicopter.)
Check out the first comment in this news story about the incident, I love it!