NTSB Identification: WPR09CA105
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 01, 2009 in Bountiful, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/2009
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N944U
Injuries: 1 Minor,3 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.

While en route to her destination, the pilot elected to fly the helicopter up a canyon toward rising terrain. Soon after making a low pass over a ridge above 8,000 feet mean sea level, the pilot increased collective in order to climb over upcoming higher terrain. As the collective was increased, the rotor rpm started to drop. The pilot immediately increased throttle, reversed course to fly downhill, and lowered the collective. During the turn, the helicopter encountered a quartering tailwind and began to settle toward the snow-covered down-sloping terrain. Soon thereafter the helicopter contacted the terrain, bounced back into the air, and a main rotor blade severed the tail boom. The helicopter rotated 180 degrees, impacted the terrain, and rolled over. According to the pilot there was no evidence of an engine power loss or any anomaly with the flight control system.

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

The pilot's improper decision to fly at low altitude while maneuvering in mountainous terrain in a canyon and inadvertently exceeding the climb capability of the helicopter. Contributing to the accident were a high density altitude, mountainous terrain, and a tailwind encountered during the attempted course reversal.

Full narrative available

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