NTSB Identification: FTW94GA232.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, July 12, 1994 in MIMBRES, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1995
Aircraft: BELL 206L-3, registration: N3178B
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious,1 Minor.

: 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 public aircraft accident report.

THE AIRCRAFT WAS BEING OPERATED BY THE USDA TO TRANSPORT FIRE FIGHTERS TO A FIRE. THE TWO SURVIVORS STATED THAT FOLLOWING A DOWNWIND APPROACH TO A PINNACLE ON A 9,520-FT MSL RIDGE LINE, THE PILOT ATTEMPTED TO BRING THE HELICOPTER TO A HOVER ABOUT 20 FT ABOVE THE LANDING AREA. THE NOSE OF THE HELICOPTER APPEARED HIGHER THAN NORMAL DURING THE FINAL PHASE OF THE APPROACH. THE HELICOPTER THEN ASSUMED A VERY HIGH NOSE ATTITUDE AND APPEARED TO START SLIDING BACKWARDS, FOLLOWED BY A LOSS OF CONTROL AND CONTACT WITH TREES. THE DENSITY ALTITUDE WAS 13,200 FT. THE AIRCRAFT WEIGHT WAS CALCULATED TO HAVE BEEN 3,750 POUNDS. UNDER THE CONDITIONS OF NO WIND, 9,520 FT PRESSURE ALTITUDE, AND 32 DEG C, THE MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT FOR HOVER IN AND OUT OF GROUND EFFECT WAS COMPUTED TO BE 3,580 AND 3,515 LBS RESPECTIVELY.

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

THE PILOT'S IMPROPER DECISION TO ATTEMPT TO HOVER OUT OF GROUND EFFECT UNDER ADVERSE CONDITIONS WHILE EXCEEDING THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE WEIGHT FOR THAT MANEUVER. FACTORS IN THE ACCIDENT WERE: HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE AND THE TAILWIND.

Full narrative available

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