NTSB Identification: LAX97LA185.
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Accident occurred Sunday, May 18, 1997 in HILO, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N98AW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The noninstrument-rated pilot filed a company visual flight plan for a ferry flight from Kona to Hilo, Hawaii, but obtained no preflight weather briefing. Meteorological conditions along the intended route of flight were variable from visual to instrument conditions. There was a 7,000 foot overcast overlaying the destination and the eastern portion of the route. A first officer for Hawaiian Airlines stated that he and the captain observed a helicopter 15 to 20 miles west of Hilo on top of an overcast and that the pilot appeared to be searching for a visual path through the clouds. The first officer stated that at that time, there were no holes in the clouds that he could see and that Hilo was under a solid overcast. The aircraft collided with mountainous terrain at 6,500 feet.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the noninstrument-rated pilot flew into instrument conditions and failed to maintain adequate terrain clearance, while attempting to descend through an overcast. The adverse weather conditions and mountainous terrain were related factors. Full narrative available
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