NTSB Identification: IAD04FA025.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 18, 2004 in Killingly, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2005
Aircraft: Robinson R-44, registration: N70144
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 pilots were on a multiple-stop, multiple-day mission from California to Rhode Island, to deliver a camera helicopter to the company president. The helicopter departed a Pennsylvania airport after midnight, and en route, climbed over instrument meteorological conditions. In the middle of Connecticut, the crew attempted to circle down to an airport, through the instrument conditions, but collided with trees. Local weather at the time included low ceilings and fog. The helicopter was not equipped for instrument flight, and there was no record that the pilots contacted any flight service stations to file a flight plan or receive a weather update. The pilot in command held a commercial certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument-helicopter ratings, and was a certificated flight instructor. The second pilot received his private certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter rating 2 weeks before the accident.

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

The pilot in command's intentional flight into instrument meteorological flight conditions, and his failure to maintain obstacle clearance which resulted in a controlled descent into trees. Factors included the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation, low cloud ceilings, fog, and dark night lighting conditions.

Full narrative available

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