NTSB Identification: SEA05CA149.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2005 in Laurel, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Hughes 269A, registration: N801CP
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 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 commercial pilot was taking his initial flight instructor check ride in the helicopter with an FAA inspector acting as the check pilot. According to the pilot, during performance of a pinnacle approach, on final approach, about 300 to 400 yards from the pinnacle, he "got a bit shallow." He informed the check pilot that he "was going to level-off to regain a steep approach angle." After correcting the approach angle, he then continued the descent. Toward the end of the approach, the pilot began increasing lift to terminate the approach at a hover. He "had to do this somewhat early as we were still a bit high and a bit too far from the pinnacle." As he started to glance at the instruments, the check pilot called for a go-around. The pilot began the go-around (increasing collective and adding forward cyclic) and "then noticed our RPMs were low." According to the check pilot, "the approach to the pinnacle was a little shallow, but for the wind conditions was acceptable. At approximately 50 feet above the pinnacle, and with about 40 knots airspeed, the approach began to get steeper. I called for a go around. [The pilot] responded by lowering collective and moving aft on the cyclic." The check pilot "noticed the airspeed slow to around 20 knots" and "observed a reduction in rotor RPM and a large increase of manifold pressure." The helicopter began to yaw to the right rotating approximately 280 to 300 degrees clockwise prior to impacting the ground on its right side.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain rotor rpm while executing a pinnacle approach, which resulted in a loss of control and collision with terrain.

Full narrative available

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