NTSB Identification: DFW06LA072.
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Accident occurred Sunday, February 19, 2006 in Gulf of Mexico, GM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2006
Aircraft: Bell 222B, registration: N306CH
Injuries: 2 Minor.
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 11,308-hour airline transport pilot and copilot were preparing to land on a brightly lit ship, at night with haze, with a 25-knot wind. With the autopilot engaged, the pilot turned on the landing light, set the parking brake, and extended the landing gear. During the transition, the pilot's attention was turned inside the helicopter's flightdeck to prepare for the ship landing. The copilot was busy looking for paperwork and preparing to assist the ship's crew once on deck. The pilot disengaged the autopilot system and pressed the SAS/ATT (Stability Augmentation System/Attitude Retention System) button to change from attitude mode to SAS mode, when he looked up just in time to see the water. The helicopter impacted the water, and sank in approximately 200 feet of water. The helicopter was not recovered. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical problems with the helicopter prior to the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The flight crew's failure to maintain control of the helicopter, and the crew's diverted attention to secondary tasks while preparing for the night landing. A contributing factor was the dark night conditions. Full narrative available
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