NTSB Identification: MIA98GA069.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 03, 1998 in SAVANNAH, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Bell UH-1H, registration: N30TV
Injuries: 4 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 public aircraft accident report.
Helicopter (hel) was being used to string rope/wires with chief pilot (PIC) in left front seat, copilot in right front seat, & 2 observers behind pilots on either side. Witnesses observed hel approach 150' tall pole with a workman at the top. Workman was to connect a rope to a 17' line from the hel which had 600 lbs of weights attached. Foreman in charge of ground operations was observing on ground between his vehicle & the pole. He was not in radio contact with pilots, although vehicle was radio equipped. Witnesses saw hel approach workman & pole from above with hel's nose facing northwest. Wind was from 110 deg at 9 gusting 19 kts. Observers were watching from sides of hel; right observer was providing suggested flight directions for the copilot, who was on the controls. Hel came to a high hover over the pole; workman attempted to attach the rope. Witnesses said hel descended as it drifted left & forward of pole & workman, then it began to back up & climb. Rotor blades struck pole & workman. Hel then rolled right, descended, & impacted ground on its right side. The hook system that was normally used for this type of operation was on another hel & was not available for this mission. Instead, a 'U' shaped swivel hook with a bolt & nut arrangement was used. The normal hook system would have allowed the workman to quickly hook the rope to the hel within seconds. Video tape showed hel hovering above workman & pole for 1-1/4 min until tape stopped (just before accident). Operation Manual required 2-way radio communication between pilot & ground crew (unless otherwise authorized by Manager of Aviation Services). There was no communication between pilot & ground crew from time hel was overhead until accident occurred.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: failure of the flight crew to maintain sufficient altitude/clearance from the pole and workman. Related factors were: the gusty wind condition, inadequate communication/coordination between the flight crew and ground personnel, and an improper external system for this type of operation. Full narrative available
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