NTSB Identification: ATL02FA062.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Friday, March 08, 2002 in Savannah, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2003
Aircraft: Eurocopter France AS355 F1, registration: N355D
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.

A helicopter was transporting a passenger to an offshore platform after official sunset. According to the witness, as they waited on the platform to receive the helicopter they saw lights drop into the ocean. The pilot was recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard and transported to a hospital. The passenger onboard the helicopter was not located until the following day. The helicopter was found 35 miles off the coast in approximately 87 feet of water. Examination of the wreckage revealed no mechanical or flight control malfunctions were discovered with the helicopter. According to the Department of Interior policies, helicopter operation shall be limited to daylight hours, and under visual weather conditions only when operating to and from off-shore platforms. The main deck of the platform is 71 feet above sea level. The helicopter landing area is 43 feet long by 43 feet wide, and was not equipped with lights for night operation.

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

The pilot's failure to follow operating procedures and, experienced spatial disorientation while attempting a night landing to an offshore platform. A factor was a dark night.

Full narrative available

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