NTSB Identification: ERA10LA323
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 21, 2010 in Asheville, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/19/2011
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C-1, registration: N247FG
Injuries: 2 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 departed for a local photo documentary flight with the helicopter about 80 pounds under gross weight. About 20 minutes after departure, the passenger spotted an area of invasive plant species which he wanted to film. The pilot then performed a 360-degree turn and approached the area in straight and level flight, between 30-40 knots to maintain translational lift. The passenger reported that they were closer than usual as they lined up for the approach. The pilot heard a pitch change in the engine and lowered the collective slightly and increased the throttle; however, the helicopter began to descend. Shortly after, the pilot stated, "she’s settling," and the passenger noted they were nearing the top of the trees going about 5-10 mph. The passenger reported that the helicopter came to a very slow stop above the trees and then felt like they were slowly sinking. He stated the engine felt like it was bogging down just prior to the helicopter beginning a slow, straight descent until the rotor blades impacted trees and the helicopter dropped to the ground. The engine was test run on the helicopter and no preimpact mechanical anomalies were noted. Examination of a videotape taken by the passenger during the accident sequence revealed that the engine continued to run, with no discernible engine anomalies prior to the accident. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Rotorcraft Flying Handbook, "settling with power" defines when the helicopter keeps settling even though full engine power is applied. Among the conditions listed that were conducive to settling with power were: attempting to hover out of ground effect without maintaining precise altitude control, or downwind or steep power approaches at low forward airspeed.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain forward airspeed, which resulted in a settling with power encounter.

Full narrative available

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