NTSB Identification: SEA05MA202.
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Accident occurred Thursday, September 29, 2005 in Edmonds, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2007
Aircraft: Agusta A109A II, registration: N655GS
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
After dropping off a patient, the pilot and two flight nurses boarded the air ambulance helicopter for a dark night cross country flight from a hospital back to their base. A company VFR flight plan was filed. Radar data shows the helicopter departed the hospital, proceeded northbound over ocean water, following the coastline at an altitude of approximately 800 feet msl. Just prior to the loss of radar contact, the helicopter entered a left turn towards the west, away from the shoreline. No eye witnesses to the accident were located. A number of ear witnesses heard a low flying helicopter and then the sound of impact. The witnesses reported low clouds and restricted visibility in rain, mist and fog in the vicinity of the accident site. The closest aviation weather reporting station, located 5 miles northwest of the accident site, reported winds from the southwest at 6 knots, with visibilities restricted in light rain and mist, with a ceiling ranging from 200 to 800 feet. Conditions rapidly deteriorated within 30 minutes of the accident, with visibilities lowering to 1/4 miles in dense fog with ceilings at 200 feet. Plotting the helicopter's flight track on weather radar images indicates the helicopter encountered an area of light precipitation as it approached the accident site. The pilot was instrument rated and met the currency requirements for IFR flight, and the helicopter was equipped and certified for IFR flight. The pilot had been employed as an air ambulance helicopter pilot in the accident area for the past 16 years. He had 7,990 hours helicopter flight time with 4,192 hours in the accident make and model, 2,396 hours night flight time and 672 hours instrument flight time. Examination of the helicopter's maintenance records revealed no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies. Damage observed on the recovered wreckage was consistent with the helicopter impacting the water in an uncontrolled descent. Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed no evidence suggesting mechanical malfunction or failure. However, the majority of the helicopter, including most of the flight control system and all flight instruments and avionics, was not recovered, precluding determination of the reasons for the loss of control.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: Loss of control for an undetermined reason during maneuvering flight, which resulted in an in-flight collision with water. Full narrative available
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