NTSB Identification: WPR09FA284
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, June 11, 2009 in Morristown, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N149SH
Injuries: 1 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.

During a low-altitude flight for rounding up stray cattle on a ranch, the helicopter collided with a power line and descended uncontrolled to the ground. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident; however, two witnesses reported hearing the helicopter working in the area and then hearing a loud bang or boom. One of the witnesses reported that at the same time he heard the loud noise the power went out at his house. First responders reported finding a downed power transmission wire near the wreckage. Wire strike marks were found on the helicopter's lower fuselage that continued to its left skid. The marks appeared to go down the skid strut, and then forward on the skid, consistent with the helicopter pivoting nose down around the wire. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any pre-existing discrepancies that would have prevented normal operation of the helicopter. Toxicology testing revealed that the pilot was using two medications, an antidepressant and a stimulant, that are not typically approved for use by the FAA. He had previously noted the use of the stimulant for mild inattentiveness and been advised by the Federal Aviation Administration that he was not permitted to operate an aircraft anytime that he required medication. He had not indicated the use of any medications on his most recent application for a medical certificate about 2 months before the accident. The role, if any, of the medications in the accident could not be definitively established.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the power line.

Full narrative available

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