NTSB Identification: ANC06LA066.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 31, 2006 in Juneau, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Bell 206L-1, registration: N45RP
Injuries: 3 Minor,4 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 certificated pilot was conducting a helicopter air tour over glaciers and mountainous terrain under Title 14, CFR Part 135 when the helicopter inadvertently collided with terrain while maneuvering in reduced visibility. Passengers, a passenger's video recording, and another air tour helicopter pilot, depicted the weather as foggy, with whiteout and flat light conditions. One passenger remarked that she wondered how the pilot could see to fly in such weather. The helicopter collided with terrain in an all-white snow/ice field and sustained substantial damage. According to an FAA inspector who interviewed the pilot shortly after the accident, the pilot stated that he was maneuvering the helicopter over the ice field, and didn't see the snowfield/ground due to the flat light conditions. Another passenger remarked to the FAA inspector that he didn't see the ground before impact either, as it was all white around the helicopter. The accident helicopter was not equipped with a radar altimeter. In 2002, following a series of similar accidents involving helicopters colliding with snow and ice fields in flat light and whiteout conditions, several in the same area as this accident flight, the NTSB recommended to the FAA that all commercial, passenger-carrying helicopters that operate over areas conducive to flat light or whiteout conditions, be equipped with radar altimeters to assist the pilot in determining their height above terrain (NTSB Recommendation A-02-035). As of February, 2007, the NTSB has classified the FAA's response to the recommendation as "Open--Unacceptable Response."

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance from terrain while maneuvering in adverse weather conditions. Factors associated with the accident are the pilot's decision to continue flight into adverse weather, fog, whiteout and flat light conditions.

Full narrative available

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