NTSB Identification: CHI97GA103.
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Accident occurred Thursday, April 10, 1997 in SEYMOUR, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Bell OH-58A, registration: N132SP
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 Minor,2 Uninjured.

: 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.

State Police personnel were using the helicopter in connection with an Emergency Response Team (ERT) static drill. The helicopter was hovering about 1 foot above ground level as 4 ERT members (2 on each side) awaited hand signals from the lead member (first) to stabilize & then (second) to board the helicopter. According to the lead member, the first signal was given for each member to grab a strap & place 1 foot on a skid to stabilize (but not board) the helicopter; however, before the second signal was given, the helicopter began quickly moving to the right. The 2 ERT members on the left side were unable 'keep up' with the helicopter as it banked/climbed, and they fell to the ground. Both right side ERT members climbed aboard the helicopter when they were unable to remain clear of its path. The helicopter continued moving right & rolled into a steep bank. It gained about 10 feet of altitude before it entered a descent & crashed. Weight & balance calculations by Bell Helicopter showed that with the weight of 2 ERT members on the right skid (& no weight on the left), the helicopter's lateral center-of-gravity (CG) limit would have been exceeded by 4.3 inches. There was a flight step above & inboard from each skid. With weight of the 2 ERT members on the right step, the CG would have been exceeded by 3.2 inches). Bell reported the pilot would not have been able to maintain lateral control in either case.

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

improper action(s) by one or more of the emergency response team members, during a hovering/loading sequence, which resulted in the helicopter's lateral center-of-gravity (CG) limitations to be exceeded. A factor associated with the accident was: the pilot's inability to maintain lateral control of the helicopter, once the lateral CG limits had been exceeded.

Full narrative available

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