NTSB Identification: DFW08FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 05, 2008 in S. Padre Island, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/15/2009
Aircraft: Eurocopter France AS350B2, registration: N911VA
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 EMS helicopter departed in dark night visual meteorological conditions en route to pick up a patient. The helicopter approached the intended landing zone from the west and reported to approach control that he had the landing zone in sight when he was at 1,000 feet above ground level and approximately 4 miles west of the landing zone. Shortly after that, the helicopter began a left turn approximately two miles to the west of the landing zone, followed by a tighter radius right turn. Several radio recordings from the flight nurse onboard the helicopter were heard to transmit the following: "uh i got lights here...follow the uh the lights out...ok follow the lights out...we're in the clouds again we're gonna abort transport patient by ground." The last radar position was at an altitude of 1,000 feet. Several witnesses saw the lights of the helicopter fall almost straight down, and the helicopter wreckage exhibited damage consistent with a high speed, port side, inverted impact with water. No anomalies were noted with the airframe, systems, and engine. A review of the pilot's experience showed that his most recent actual instrument experience was in 1997 when he completed an instrument competency check in a single-engine airplane. The only instrument experience in a helicopter entered in the pilot's logbook within the past ten years was two entries of simulated instrument time of 0.8 hours in December, 2005. and 0.2 hours in September, 2007.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control resulting in the helicopter impacting the water. Factors contributing to the accident were the pilot's inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions, the low ceiling, dark night conditions, and the pilot's lack of recent instrument flying experience.

Full narrative available

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