NTSB Identification: NYC99LA059.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 12, 1999 in TOLEDO, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2001
Aircraft: Aerospatiale 355, registration: N355MF
Injuries: 3 Serious.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The flight departed the hospital for a routine Night VFR patient pickup and transport. Approximately 5 miles from Toledo Express Airport, the pilot received Toledo Express' current weather which included 1/4 mile in heavy snow showers. The pilot aborted the flight. Twenty seconds later Toledo advised the pilot that visibility had improved to 3 miles. Also, a company pilot operating in the vicinity of the pilot's destination, reported 2 to 3 miles of visibility, and a couple of snow squalls that could easily be circumnavigated. With this information the pilot elected to resume the mission, but once on course, he still felt flight conditions were inadequate. He aborted the flight for a second time. While en route to the departure point, the helicopter entered IMC. According to the flight nurse 'the pilot was fighting the helicopter with both hands.' The flight doctor stated that he lost visual contact with the ground for approximately 2 minutes, and regained it just before impact. The helicopter impacted a tree, and then a house seriously injuring the three occupants. In addition, the weather forecast obtained by the pilot prior to departure did not match actual conditions.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's decision to continue the flight which resulted in inadvertent flight into IMC, and the subsequent spatial disorientation and loss of control. A factor in the accident was the inaccuracy of the weather forecast. Full narrative available
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