NTSB Identification: SEA06FA159.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 13, 2006 in Warrenton, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2007
Aircraft: Robinson R44 II, registration: N168PT
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The helicopter descended into the ocean after encountering instrument meteorological conditions. The accident helicopter was one in a flight of two helicopters on a cross-country positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport; however, the flight crews encountered low ceilings at the destination airport and elected to continue the flight to the west, over water, in an effort to find a break in the overcast. A passenger in the number 2 helicopter (non-accident helicopter) reported the pilots of both helicopters were in continuous contact with one another during the flight and that as the weather conditions deteriorated, the pilot of the number 2 helicopter stated "I'm going to go through it" followed by "stay right behind me." The pilot in the accident helicopter agreed. The witness reported that when the number 2 helicopter entered the fog, the accident helicopter was "behind and above us." The witness stated the pilot in the accident helicopter radioed the pilot of the number 2 helicopter asking, "How fast are you descending?" The pilot stated "very slow." The witness reported that approximately 30 seconds later; the pilot of the number 2 helicopter stated, "Go back up... it's too low. It's much lower than we thought. Go back up right now." Radio contact with the accident helicopter was lost. Approximately 15 minutes later, two orange life vests and miscellaneous wreckage debris were found floating in the water approximately 1 mile offshore. The hourly METAR observation at the destination airport included, a visibility of 5 statute miles in mist, and overcast clouds at 400 feet. Search and rescue personnel reported the weather in the area of the accident was, visibility 1 mile; overcast ceiling at 100 feet and winds from the northwest at 10 knots.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's intentional flight into instrument meteorological conditions while maneuvering which resulted in an in flight collision with terrain/water. Full narrative available
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