NTSB Identification: LAX02FA020.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 04, 2001 in ESCONDIDO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Robinson R-22 BETA, registration: N7197Y
Injuries: 2 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 helicopter collided with trees in an avocado grove and then terrain. The helicopter was believed to have departed a nearby airport, about 15 minutes prior to the accident on November 4, 2001, for a flight to the accident location. Farm workers found the wreckage on the morning of November 6, 2001. The wreckage was about 100 yards from a landing pad on the pilot's property, which was about 10 miles from departure airport. The elevation of the pad was about 1,600 feet. A certified flight instructor (CFI) at the departure airport saw the pilot preparing the helicopter for flight about 1715 on November 4. The CFI said the visibility was 4 miles with haze and going down. The automated surface observation station indicated that skies were clear at 1714 with 4 miles visibility and mist; the field elevation was 28 feet. The temperature/dew point spread was less than 3 degrees. By 1745, there were broken clouds at 1,000 feet; the visibility and temperature/dewpoint spread had not changed. The pilot always approached the landing pad, which was unlit, from the northeast. Investigators did not discover any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the helicopter or engine. Sunset occurred at 1659, civil twilight occurred at 1724, and nautical twilight occurred at 1753. The helicopter did not have an artificial horizon. The instrument panel had a placard indicating that the pilot must have sufficient illumination to operate by outside light sources. The Pilot Operating Handbook had the limitation that the pilot must maintain orientation at night by lights on the ground or by adequate celestial illumination.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate clearance from obstacles while approaching to land at his private helipad. Factors in the accident were night conditions, inadequate illumination of the landing pad, and a likely low visibility condition due to fog.

Full narrative available

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