NTSB Identification: ANC05CA049.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 15, 2005 in Elim, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N422R
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airline transport certificated pilot was flying a high skid-equipped helicopter over flat, snow-covered terrain. As the flight progressed, visibility deteriorated to about one and one-half miles, making it difficult to discern the surface of the featureless terrain. The pilot said that he elected to make a precautionary landing, and wait for improved weather conditions. After landing, he decided to reposition the helicopter to a more suitable site. He said that just after takeoff, as the helicopter moved forward, flat light and worsening fog contributed to his inability to recognize any topographical features. He reported that while hover taxiing, the main rotor blades struck a snow-ridge, and the helicopter pitched forward. When the main rotor blades struck the snow-ridge, the main rotor mast sheered, and the helicopter rolled to the right, coming to rest upright against the snow-ridge. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom, main rotor blades, and transmission deck assembly. The pilot noted that there were no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the helicopter.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain adequate clearance while maneuvering, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain. Factors associated with the accident are flat light, whiteout conditions, fog, and snow-covered terrain.

Full narrative available

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