NTSB Identification: FTW03LA106.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 06, 2003 in Venice, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS350B2, registration: N945PT
Injuries: 5 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 helicopter impacted water while maneuvering in a turn. The 16,000-hour pilot stated that a weather brief was obtained prior to departure, and the weather reported at Venice, Louisiana, near the intended destination was 2 1/2 statute miles visibility, with increasing visibilities and sky conditions improving. At approximately 0715 and 40 nautical miles northwest Boothville, Louisiana, deteriorating weather conditions developed. The pilot elected to execute a right turn and descend to an altitude where weather conditions were better, and sight of water was evident. At a slow rate of speed "estimated no faster than a walk," the tail rotor struck the water. The aircraft yawed to the left and a ditching maneuver was entered while close to the water at a slow speed. The aircraft impacted the water on its left side and immediately filled with water. Weather conditions at NEW at 0653 were reported as winds calm, visibility 1/2 statute mile, ceiling indefinite at 100 feet, and fog. Weather conditions at Boothville, Louisiana (BVE), 40 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, at 0751, were reported as winds from 180 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 1/4 statute mile, ceiling indefinite at 100 feet, and fog.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inability to maintain directional control following a loss of tail rotor drive. A contributing factor was the fog. Full narrative available
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