NTSB Identification: SEA07LA110.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Friday, April 20, 2007 in Makawao, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/30/2008
Aircraft: Eurocopter EC 130 B4, registration: N130WS
Injuries: 5 Minor,1 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 helicopter was one of two helicopters dispatched empty from the company's base to pick up passengers from a confined area remote site at a private residence. The landing at the remote site was uneventful. Passengers were loaded into the other helicopter, and it departed without incident about 3 to 4 minutes prior to departure of the accident helicopter. The passengers were loaded into the accident helicopter, and the pilot briefed them prior to takeoff. The pilot stated that he used maximum allowable power to initiate the takeoff and started forward movement with the cyclic "needing to clear the trees/wires on the takeoff." The helicopter stopped climbing at about 30 ft agl, as it reached tree top height. The nose started to turn left, and the pilot could not stop the turn with right pedal. The helicopter continued to turn left as it settled into the trees and descended to ground impact. The pilot reported no mechanical discrepancies with the helicopter. Four minutes before the accident, the nearest weather reporting station, located about 4 nautical miles from the accident site, reported winds from a true heading of 050 at 19 knots gusting to 29 knots. Review of an on board video recording of the accident flight indicated that the helicopter departed downwind on a true heading of about 251 degrees. The pilot stated that "downwind takeoff was the reason for accident." He commented that the wind was "25 to 30 [knots] with gusts." The pilot stated that he had spoken to the operator's chief pilot the day before the accident "about the poor choice of performing this charter with high winds 25, gusting to 30." He further stated that on the morning of the accident he reiterated his concerns "about the required downwind takeoff at the remote site" to the company's operations manager. According to the operator, "the downwind departure resulted in the helicopter settling with an uncontrolled nose rotation to the left." The operator expressed the opinion that had the pilot performed a maximum performance confined area takeoff into the wind, the helicopter would have achieved effective translational lift to clear barriers without any incident or problems.

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

The pilot's improper decision to takeoff downwind in a confined landing zone, which resulted in a failure to attain translational lift and a loss of control.

Full narrative available

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