NTSB Identification: LAX05GA192.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 01, 2005 in Bisbee, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2006
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS 350 B2, registration: N5205F
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

: 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 public aircraft accident report.

While hovering over a mountainous area on an aerial observation mission, the helicopter entered a rapid yaw rotation to the left then descended to ground impact. While hovering over items of interest on the ground, the pilot began a turn to the left at 200 feet above ground level. The helicopter began to turn more rapidly than normal and the pilot applied right pedal. The right pedal application did not counteract the turn rate and the helicopter continued spinning to the left. The pilot then reduced power and pitched the helicopter's nose forward while maintaining right pedal. The helicopter continued to rotate as it descended to impact with the ground. At the time of the accident, the pilot was not aware from which direction the wind was blowing. The pilot's regular flying assignment consisted of high-altitude surveillance flights over Florida and he was on a short duration pilot augmentation assignment to the Tucson operations base and had limited mountain flying experience. A pilot flying in the area immediately following the accident reported winds greater than 20 knots and blowing from the west. The helicopter was operating at a gross weight of 4,020 pounds. The maximum allowable gross weight of the helicopter is 4,961 pounds. The density altitude was 7,850 feet mean sea level (msl) and the out of ground effect hover capability of the helicopter was about 8,000 feet msl. Post accident examination of the helicopter did not reveal any preimpact airframe or engine malfunctions.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate forward airspeed, which resulted in an in-flight loss of control due to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness, while operating near the out of ground effect hover capability of the helicopter. Contributing factors to the accident was the high density altitude and the pilot's lack of experience in the operating environment.

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