NTSB Identification: WPR09LA420
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 27, 2009 in Grand Canyon, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/01/2010
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS350 B2 Ecureuil, registration: N705LV
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot stated that six fare-paying passengers exited from the helicopter upon landing at the designated helipad adjacent to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Thereafter, the pilot restarted the helicopter to pick up another load of passengers at the top of the canyon. Boulders had been situated around the perimeter of the helipad by the operator to assist in marking its location. The pilot stated that seconds after becoming airborne, and as he was maneuvering during a left clearing turn to depart the area, the helicopter's tail rotor impacted a perimeter boulder. The helicopter pitched nose down and began to violently shudder, vibrate, and oscillate right and left. The pilot immediately descended from a hover and landed with the helicopter remaining upright. The helicopter sustained damage to its tail rotor blades, a hole in the tail boom, drive shaft damage, and associated damage to the 90-degree gearbox.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from a boulder during a low-altitude takeoff turn.

Full narrative available

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