NTSB Identification: DEN06LA096.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 12, 2006 in Taos, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Bell 206L-3, registration: N44NM
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 purpose of the flight was to assist in an air search for a missing individual and provide aerial photo footage. While maneuvering at an altitude of approximately 12,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the pilot noticed a group of individuals exited a portion of the tree-covered area, and a National Guard UH-60 helicopter was staged on the ground in an open area. After a radio conversation with the National Guard pilot, the news helicopter pilot attempted to land in the open area, in order to obtain video footage of the rescue. After circling the open area 3 times at an airspeed of 40 to 50 knots, the pilot attempted to land approximately 300 feet from the National Guard helicopter. Approximately 30 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot applied forward cyclic to increase airspeed for a run-on landing. Shortly thereafter, the helicopter began a yaw to the right. The pilot then applied full left anti-torque pedal input; however, the yaw to the right continued. Approximately 10 feet agl, the pilot reduced throttle and applied forward cyclic. Subsequently, the helicopter impacted terrain nose first, rolled to the left and came to rest on its left side. The accident site was located in mountainous open terrain at an elevation of approximately 12,400 msl. The pilot reported the wind was calm and the temperature was approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The pilot stated he did not complete any performance calculations prior to the flight. No preaccident anomalies were noted with the helicopter. The FAA have published information about the loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). At higher altitudes, where the air is thinner, tail rotor thrust and efficiency is reduced. When operating at high altitudes and high gross weight, especially while hovering, the tail rotor thrust may not be sufficient to maintain directional control and LTE can occur. In this case, the hovering ceiling is limited by tail rotor thrust and not necessarily power available. In these conditions gross weights need to be reduced and/or operations need to be limited to lower density altitudes.

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

the loss of tail rotor effectiveness during landing, and the pilot's delayed remedial action to counteract a right yaw, which resulted in a loss of directional control and collision with terrain. A contributing factor was the pilot's failure to perform preflight performance calculations.

Full narrative available

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