NTSB Identification: FTW99FA100.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Friday, March 26, 1999 in HOUSTON, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/2000
Aircraft: Robinson R22 BETA, registration: N2323V
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot lost control of the helicopter while maneuvering during an aerial photography flight. Witnesses stated that the helicopter flew from the west and then made a left turn (when viewed from below). The helicopter then started to spin 'out of control' about its vertical axis. The helicopter was described as pitching nose down and even inverted in some accounts. The witnesses stated that the main rotor blades stopped, and the helicopter 'fell out of the sky.' No pre-accident anomalies with the helicopter were noted during the wreckage examination. Toxicology tests revealed levels of 0.117 ug/mL of Propoxyphene (a prescription narcotic painkiller), 0.589 ug/mL of Norpropoxyphene (a metabolite of propxyphene), and 8 ug/mL of Acetaminophen in the pilot's blood. The level of propoxyphene and acetaminophen suggests a normal dose within the previous 6 hours. The level of norpropoxyphene found suggests that another dose of medication may have been used within the previous 24 hours. The use of propoxyphene during flight is contraindicated due to its depressant effects on the central nervous system.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the helicopter while maneuvering. A factor was the pilot's impairment due to his use of a prescription narcotic.

Full narrative available

Index for Mar1999 | Index of months