NTSB Identification: LAX08LA198
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 27, 2008 in Ash Fork, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/11/2009
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B3, registration: N586AE
Injuries: 3 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 helicopter pilot was dispatched to a highway motorcycle accident on the night flight. The pilot reported that he was wearing night vision goggles and that the weather en route was clear skies with unrestricted visibility. As he approached the vehicle accident location he contacted the incident commander by radio and was instructed to land at a landing zone (LZ) about 1.5 miles north of the vehicle accident location. The pilot performed an orbit around the vehicle accident site and determined that it would be safe for him to land there directly. He once again contacted the incident commander and requested to land but the incident commander instructed the pilot to continue north to the LZ. Upon arrival at the LZ, the pilot reconnoitered the site and observed that the incident commanders' vehicle was situated in a location that would make the approach for landing steeper than normal. He therefore elected to change the approach to a route that would take him over a sparsely vegetated dirt field, followed by a gravel road, and then a paved road for the final approach to touchdown. Halfway through the approach the flight encountered brownout conditions and he began to perform a go-around. He reported being confident that he had initiated a climb, but shortly thereafter the helicopter impacted the ground. During the impact sequence the helicopter rolled on its right, and the main rotor, tail rotor, and engine separated from the fuselage. The pilot stated that the helicopter and engine had no mechanical failures or malfunctions during the flight.

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

The pilot's spatial disorientation resulting in his failure to detect and compensate for an unintentional descent during a go-around. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's inadequate choice of landing approach, reduced visibility from brownout conditions, and the dark night.

Full narrative available

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