NTSB Identification: LAX04LA285.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 26, 2004 in Cibecue, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Eurocopter France AS350B3, registration: N5226R
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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 landed hard damaging the tail boom while landing at a improvised landing zone to pickup a medical patient. Several days prior, the pilot had landed at the same landing zone (a baseball field) and recalled that he encountered a large cloud of blowing dirt and was anticipating the same thing. About 3 feet above ground level, as the helicopter slowed to about 10 knots, a dust cloud began to formulate. The pilot said that the helicopter continued to descend and made a "firm" touchdown on the right skid, followed almost immediately by the left. A medical crewmember reported that on final approach he felt as though the helicopter was descending faster than normal. As the helicopter came into ground effect, a significant amount of dust was stirred up, diminishing visibility. The medical crewmember said the skids touched down with "significant" force. The operator reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions of failures with the helicopter.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain a proper decent rate during the landing approach and misjudged landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing. A factor in the accident was the brownout conditions created by the dust cloud that interfered with the pilot's perception of proximity to the ground.

Full narrative available

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