The lone pilot of a Robinson R66 helicopter was killed on 1 October following what appears to have been an in-flight breakup of the five-passenger type, first certified in October 2010.
The accident is the second fatal accident involving the R66 and the first in the US. An R66 crashed in Colombia, South America, in July, killing both occupants on board.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident, which according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) preliminary report, happened near Philip, South Dakota, in the late afternoon in good weather. The NTSB does not issue a preliminary report until a minimum of 10 days after an accident.
On the NTSB's website, a picture of the crash site is labeled as "aircraft impacted the ground following an apparent in-flight breakup".
N266CY is registered to P P & J, based in Gillette, Wyoming, according to FAA records. The helicopter was certificated in March 2011.
The R66, Robinson's first turbine helicopter, is powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft engine. The helicopter is widely regarded as the most advanced, powerful and user-friendly helicopter the Torrance, California-based manufacturer has produced to date.