NTSB Identification: FTW95FA116.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 14, 1995 in EAST CAMERON
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/16/1995
Aircraft: BELL 206L-4, registration: N172AL
Injuries: 5 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.

AT 1445 CST ON 2/14/95, THE HELICOPTER TOOK OFF ON A FLIGHT FROM AN OFF-SHORE PLATFORM IN THE GULF OF MEXICO TO INTERCOASTAL CITY, LA. DURING THE FLIGHT, THE PILOT MADE SEVERAL POSITION REPORTS WITH THE LAST ONE BEING 32 MILES SOUTH OF INTERCOASTAL CITY. AT 1534, HE MADE A SERIES OF MAYDAY TRANSMISSIONS INDICATING INADVERTENT FLIGHT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC). THE HELICOPTER, HOWEVER, WAS NOT CERTIFICATED FOR FLIGHT IN IMC. WHEN THE HELICOPTER DID N0T ARRIVE, A SEARCH WAS INITIATED, BUT SEARCH AND RESCUE EFFORTS WERE HAMPERED UNTIL 2/19/95 BY FOG AND IFR CEILINGS. PIECES OF THE HELICOPTER WERE FOUND WITH INDICATIONS THAT IT HAD IMPACTED THE WATER. ALSO, THE BODIES OF 4 OCCUPANTS WERE RECOVERED, BUT 1 OCCUPANT WAS NOT FOUND AND WAS PRESUMED TO HAVE BEEN FATALLY INJURED. LOW CEILINGS AND FOG PREVAILED ALONG THE GULF OF MEXICO AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. ON 11/18/94, THE PILOT HAD SATISFACTORILY COMPLETED A VFR ONLY FLIGHT CHECK, INCLUDING EMERGENCY VERTICAL HELICOPTER INSTRUMENT RECOVERY PROCEDURES. COMPANY RECORDS INDICATED HE HAD 0.20 HOUR OF INSTRUMENT HOOD TIME DURING THE PREVIOUS 6 MONTHS. BEFORE TAKEOFF, OTHER COMPANY PILOTS ADVISED THE ACCIDENT PILOT THAT WEATHER CONDITIONS WERE DETERIORATING AND VARIED FROM COMPANY MINIMUMS (500 FOOT CEILING AND 3 MILES VISIBILITY) TO OBSCURED SKIES WITH VISIBILITY LESS THAN 2 MILES IN FOG. HE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGED TO OTHER PILOTS THAT WEATHER ON THE PLATFORM WAS DETERIORATING AND THAT HE WAS DEPARTING.

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

INADVERTENT FLIGHT BY THE PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), AND HIS FAILURE TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE HELICOPTER AFTER BECOMING SPATIALLY DISORIENTED. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND THE PILOT'S LACK OF RECENT INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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