NTSB Identification: FTW03FA082
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 10, 2003 in Salt Lake City, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Agusta A-109-K2, registration: N601RX
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

While maneuvering low to the ground during night conditions, the air ambulance helicopter encountered fog and poor weather conditions, and impacted the terrain. Shortly after departing from its hospital base, the helicopter was cleared by air traffic control to proceed through a major airport's airspace to respond to a medical emergency. After crossing through the airspace, the pilot elected to abort the mission; however, he was instructed by air traffic control to hold and wait for clearance through the airspace due to landing traffic at the airport. After holding for approximately 10 minutes, the pilot stated, "I'm basically inadvertent IMC at this time and declaring emergency...I'm currently on a heading one five zero." Examination of the accident site revealed the helicopter impacted the terrain on a heading of 150 degrees, became airborne for approximately 1/4 mile, then impacted the terrain and came to rest upright in a grassy field. According to documents provided by the operator, the pilot had accumulated a total of 311 simulated instrument flight time, and 3 hours of actual instrument flight time. Examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of an in-flight control or system malfunction prior to the initial impact. Prior to the accident helicopter's departure from the hospital base, another air ambulance company helicopter attempted the same mission; however, aborted the mission due to fog and deteriorating weather conditions.

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

The pilot's delayed remedial action and continued flight into known adverse weather conditions which resulted in his failure to maintain clearance with the ground. Contributing factors were the prevailing fog, and the pressure to complete the mission induced by the pilot in command as a result of the air ambulance operation.

Full narrative available

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