NTSB Identification: LAX99FA003.
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Accident occurred Sunday, October 04, 1998 in LAS VEGAS, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/21/2000
Aircraft: Bell 222, registration: N213ML
Injuries: 3 Minor,1 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 aircraft accident report.

The pilot was departing from a confined area surrounded by tall obstacles from 50 to 60 feet in height. The direction the helicopter faced put the prevailing winds from the rear quadrants. Witnesses saw the helicopter liftoff to the north, barely missing nearby palm trees. The eyewitnesses said the helicopter was hovering erratically, and that the tail of the helicopter was moving side to side, as if the pilot was fighting the wind. The helicopter did not climb above the height of the three-story administration building. The helicopter bounced landed, bounced, rolled over, and came to rest on its left side. The left engine throttle was found rolled to the full on position, while the right engine throttle was less than the full on position. Postaccident tests of both engines revealed no abnormalities with their performance. An attempt was made to duplicate the takeoff conditions using a 222 simulator, with a throttle split and tailwind condition set up in the simulator. In two of the scenarios the pilot was unable to successfully fly out of the condition and crashed with a high rate of descent. The pilot's training records indicated that he had not attended a proficiency or emergency procedure course in the Bell 222. All previous training flights were conducted in a Bell 206. Each engine was calculated to be capable of producing 494 SHP. An engineering analysis concluded that in a single engine situation, insufficient power would be available to hover; with the power output of one engine reduced, out-of-ground-effect hover capability was not available.

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

The pilot's failure to ensure that both throttles were in the takeoff position. Factors were the pilot's decision to takeoff with a tailwind, and his lack of recurrent emergency procedure training in this helicopter.

Full narrative available

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