NTSB Identification: CEN09LA413
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Thursday, July 02, 2009 in Breckenridge, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON 206L-1, registration: N38AZ
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 was conducting external load operations at an estimated density altitude of 14,000 to 14,500 feet. While manuvering to the landing zone, the helicopter began to lose tail rotor effectiveness. The commercial pilot was unable to regain control of the helicopter prior to impacting sloping terrain. Substantial damaged was sustained to the helicopter's fuselage and the pilot was seriously injured. Using an estimate total gross weigh of 3,600 pounds (3,000 pounds for the helicopter plus internal load and 600 pounds for the external load), the helicopter would have been operating in the Area B section of the Out of Ground Effect (OGE) Hover Ceiling chart and is subject to the Critical Relative Wind Azimuth chart that lists a wind avoid area between 050-210°. This density altitude combined with the helicopter's weight placed the helicopter's performance in the "Critical Wind Azimuth Area." Convective activity in the area of the accident would have produced varying wind directions with gusts up to 30 knots.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control while maneuvering due to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to monitor wind direction while operating in the "Critical Wind Azimuth Area."

Full narrative available

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