NTSB Identification: ANC08CA112.
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Accident occurred Friday, August 22, 2008 in Iliamna, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/26/2008
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N291VB
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial helicopter pilot was positioning the helicopter to move crew members from a drilling test site. As he approached and passed the approximately 70-foot high drill tower, he related that he was about 30 feet above the ground, when he heard a violent bang and lost control of the helicopter. The helicopter immediately became uncontrollable, and descended rapidly to the ground, where it caught fire. The pilot said he was able to release his seat restraints, and crawled through where the windscreen/bubble used to be. The drilling crew had previously stripped approximately 6,000 feet of 3/8-inch thick cable from the drum at the base of the drill tower, over the top of the tower, and onto the ground. The pilot was unaware of these activities, and did not see the wire until after he had collided with it. According to the operator, pulling the wire off the drum was a rare occurrence, and there was no active communication from ground personnel alerting the pilot that the wire was trailing away from the tower.

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

The pilot's failure to see a wire cable prior to colliding with it. Factors contributing to the accident were the non-routine positioning of the wire cable, and the ground crew's failure to advise the pilot that the wire had been re-routed.

Full narrative available

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