NTSB Identification: LAX05FA056.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 30, 2004 in Panamint Spring, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2007
Aircraft: Eurocopter France AS350BA, registration: N410JC
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 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.

The helicopter's main rotor blades impacted a mountainside while the pilot's right rear seated cameraman was filming an automobile for a television commercial. During the impact sequence, the tips of the main rotor blades were severed, and then the helicopter crashed onto the underlying state highway. Blade tip fragments were found on the mountainside, about 246 feet from where the main wreckage came to rest against the highway's guardrail. The pilot indicated that while following the film director's requested route he maneuvered at a low altitude over the two-lane highway that was bordered on one side by a drop-off and a rising cliff like face on the other side. While proceeding in an easterly direction, the road curved to the south with the upsloping mountain side located adjacent to the south side of the road. The cameraman's video camera was recovered from the wreckage, and the Safety Board's Vehicle Recorder Division in Washington, D.C. extracted the videotape. The audio and video images clearly showed the helicopter's maneuvering during the seconds leading up to and including the accident, in addition to the pilot's broadcast instructions to the car's driver to proceed "faster if you can." The pilot was flying from the right seat and the helicopter was about 20 feet above the highway.

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

The pilot's misjudged lateral distance from a mountainside and failure to maintain an adequate clearance from terrain and obstacles while performing a low altitude filming maneuver.

Full narrative available

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