NTSB Identification: NYC95FA103.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 08, 1995 in TOANO, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/08/1995
Aircraft: ROBINSON R-22 BETA, registration: N8311A
Injuries: 1 Fatal,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 aircraft accident report.

THE PILOT AND PASSENGER DEPARTED ON A LOCAL FLIGHT FROM THEIR BOAT ROOF HELIPAD. AFTER A SHORT FLIGHT, THEY LANDED IN A RESTAURANT PARKING LOT. AT 2125, ON A MOONLESS NIGHT WITH AN OVERCAST SKY, THE PILOT AND PASSENGER DEPARTED FROM THE PARKING LOT FOR THE 1 MILE FLIGHT BACK TO THEIR HELIPAD. ON FINAL APPROACH, THE PILOT SLOWED THE HELICOPTER AND DESCENDED INTO THE WATER, ABOUT 500 FEET SHORT OF THE PAD. THE PILOT AND PASSENGER EXITED THE HELICOPTER, BUT ONLY THE PASSENGER WAS RESCUED BY BOAT. EXAMINATION OF THE HELICOPTER AND ENGINE REVEALED NO PRE-IMPACT FAILURES. THE PASSENGER STATED THAT SHE HEARD NO ABNORMAL NOISES, NOR OBSERVED ANY OF THE HELICOPTER'S CAUTION PANEL LIGHTS PRIOR TO WATER CONTACT. THE PILOT HAD ACCUMULATED ABOUT 150 HOURS OF TOTAL FLIGHT EXPERIENCE, ALL IN THIS MAKE AND MODEL HELICOPTER. THE BOAT ROOF HELIPAD WAS NOT LIGHTED. A SINGLE FLOOD LIGHT UNDER THE ROOF ILLUMINATED A JET-SKI. FAA ADVISROY CIRCULAT 150/5390-2A RECOMMENDS, IN PART, THAT THE PERIMETER OF PRIVATE HELIPORTS BE ILLUMINATED WITH YELLOW LIGHTS OR FLOODLIGHTS. THE APPROACH PATH TO THE PAD WAS OVER WATER, WITH RISING TERRAIN AND 75 FOOT TREES BEYOND THE PAD. THE PASSENGER STATED THAT IT WAS A VERY DARK NIGHT. THE FAA AIRMEN INFORMATION MANUAL INDICATES AN ABSENCE OF GROUND FEATURES, AS WHEN LANDING OVER WATER, DARKENED AREAS...CAN CREATE THE ILLUSION THAT THE AIRCRAFT IS AT A HIGHER ALTITUDE THAN IT ACTUALLY IS. ACCORDING TO AIMS, THE PILOT WHO DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THIS ILLUSION WILL FLY A LOWER APPROACH.

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

The pilot misjudged altitude and distance which resulted in an undershoot of the landing area and collision with water. Contributing factors are inadequate helipad lighting and a dark night light condition.

Full narrative available

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