NTSB Identification: ANC06LA025.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, March 12, 2006 in Ilimana, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/2006
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N7528Z
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
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 commercial helicopter pilot was flying one passenger on an on-demand, Title 14, CFR Part 135 air taxi flight to a remote site in an area surrounded by snow-covered, flat, featureless terrain. Low fog, reduced visibility, and flat light conditions reduced his ability to discern a horizon or terrain. He said that the visibility deteriorated to about 1 or 2 miles, and he was unable to discern any topographic features on the snow-covered terrain, and he elected to make a precautionary landing to wait for better visibility. After about 10 minutes, he decided to continue to his destination. Just after takeoff, flat light conditions again reduced his ability to recognize any topographical features on the snow-covered terrain. He reported that while he was attempting to establish a stable hover, and erroneously believing that the helicopter was not moving, the helicopter's right skid struck the snow-covered terrain. The helicopter rolled to the right, and the main rotor blades struck the ground. As the main rotor blades struck the ground, the helicopter rolled onto its right side. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom assembly, and the main and tail rotor drive systems. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the helicopter.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions, and his spatial disorientation and loss of control during a subsequent landing attempt. Factors associated with the accident are flat light and whiteout conditions, fog, and snow-covered terrain.
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