NTSB Identification: LAX99FA200.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 28, 1999 in HUNTINGTON BCH, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/06/2001
Aircraft: MBB BO 105LS A-3, registration: N811CE
Injuries: 3 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 purpose of the flight was to transport two company employees to an island located 22 miles offshore. The pilot was not instrument rated. The weather conditions along the coast consisted of overcast skies with cloud bases from 700 to 1,100 feet, and, tops between 1,900 and 2,200 feet; visibilities were generally in the 4- to 5-mile range. Ground and pilot witnesses said that a localized area of lower cloud bases, between 350 and 500 feet, and reduced visibilities of about 1.5 miles existed in the area of the accident site. Review of recorded radar data disclosed that the helicopter descended from a cruise altitude of 900 feet and crossed the shoreline at 400 feet. As the helicopter reached the accident site location, it climbed to 600 feet over 19 seconds, then turned right to a northerly heading while the altitude climbed from 600 to 900 feet; the radius of turn was calculated at 720 feet at an average ground speed of 69 knots. The helicopter then descended to 700 feet as the radar track began a wide left turn, which then reversed to a tight right turn. The last four radar returns showed a right turn with a 120-foot radius, with a constant Mode C report of 700 feet; the average computed ground speed during this turn was 67 knots. The last radar return was a secondary beacon without a Mode C altitude report; the location of the last radar return was about 200 feet from where the wreckage was found on the ocean floor. No preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures were found during examination of the wreckage.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's in-flight loss of control due to spatial disorientation while maneuvering to reverse direction after an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions. Full narrative available
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