NTSB Identification: LAX06LA257.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 10, 2006 in Tucson, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2008
Aircraft: Robinson R22 Beta, registration: N7059S
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 pilot and his passenger, an aerial photographer, departed and headed for a mountain pass. With the available engine power on the hot day, and the pilot's close proximity to the rising terrain, the helicopter did not have adequate climb performance to traverse the first mountain pass route selected. The second available route was 500 feet lower, but it also exceeded the performance capability of the helicopter. As the helicopter climbed, its clearance above the rising mountainous terrain decreased to 300 feet, at which time the pilot reversed course to head toward lower elevation terrain. The pilot failed to maintain adequate main rotor rpm to sustain flight, and impacted the 6,400-foot mean sea level mountainside in an uncontrolled descent. The approximate density altitude was about 8,600 feet. The helicopter was 41 pounds over its maximum certificated gross weight at takeoff, and about 18 pounds below its maximum certificated gross weight at the time of the accident.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate rotor rpm and adequate terrain clearance while maneuvering to reverse direction. Contributing factors were the high density altitude, that exceeded the helicopter's performance capability, and the rising mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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