NTSB Identification: LAX05LA308.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, September 21, 2005 in Running Springs, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2006
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS350B3, registration: N814CE
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was performing external load operations in the vicinity of tall trees when the main rotor impacted a tree and the helicopter descended nose first into the ground. At the time of rotor impact with the trees, the Vehicle Engine Monitoring Display (VEMD) recorded a high torque measurement (146 percent) and a low engine drive speed measurement (184 rpm), followed by a low torque (5.7 percent) and a high engine speed (511 rpm) and temperature (999C). As a result of the main rotor impact with trees the engine's torque twisted apart the engine to transmission drive shaft causing an engine over speed and over temperature condition. The operator was utilizing a 78.8-foot-long line for the external load operations, which in some cases put the main rotor of the helicopter below the treetops of the 80- to 90-foot trees. Examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of a preimpact malfunction or failure of the control system or power plant.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate clearance from trees while performing long line external lift operations.

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