NTSB Identification: ATL00LA058.
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Accident occurred Monday, June 05, 2000 in LAKE PLACID, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2001
Aircraft: Bell 407, registration: N234BH
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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 pilot was circling the helicopter at an indicated altitude of 1,000 ft. msl while performing an aerial survey of wild fires during the night. Visibility in the area was limited due to smoke present from the fires. After circling for 25 minutes, the pilot initiated an approach to a grass landing zone. The passenger was calling out altitudes every 50 ft. while the pilot verified the call outs. Shortly after the passenger called out 450 ft., the helicopter impacted the ground while traveling at a speed of 35 knots. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or component failures with the helicopter. In an interview following the accident, the pilot reported that the altimeter setting was approximately 300 feet off. The remote area in which he was flying was very dark with limited lighting.

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

The pilot's failure to establish/maintain a safe rate of descent during approach to landing. Contributing factors were the pilot's incorrect altimeter (Kollsman) setting, smoke, and dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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