NTSB Identification: FTW98FA093.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, January 11, 1998 in SANDY, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/30/1998
Aircraft: Bell 222UT, registration: N222UH
Injuries: 4 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.

The hospital helicopter was dispatched to transport a skier, who had been injured in an avalanche. Snow was not falling when the helicopter departed the hospital, but there were 'gusty winds and light to moderate snow' during arrival at the landing zone. The dispatcher telephoned the pilot (using a cellular phone) to advise him that hospital weather conditions had deteriorated due to a fast moving front. She said it was 'snowing really hard,' the winds were gusting to 37 knots, and visibility was less than 300 feet (she could not see a wing of the hospital on the closed circuit television monitor, and could barely distinguish the helipad). A sheriff's deputy said that the helicopter took off from the landing zone in 'blizzard conditions' and circled the landing zone, then turned north and disappeared from view. Seconds later, a deputy heard 'a slight muffled boom. . . The weather had grown steadily worse and the snow was falling very heavily.' Later, the helicopter was found where it had impacted mountainous terrain in a canyon area. Several tree tops were severed when the helicopter crashed.

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

flight by the pilot into known adverse weather conditions, and his failure (or inability) to maintain sufficient clearance or altitude from mountainous terrain. Related factors were: darkness, heavy snow, high winds, the pilot's perception of pressure that was induced by the conditions and events, and mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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