NTSB Identification: CEN12LA053
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 03, 2011 in Noblesville, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/15/2013
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC 130 B4, registration: N130AL
Injuries: 6 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 pilot reported that before departure, he checked two internet weather services for his flight’s weather briefing. The weather forecast indicated visual meteorological conditions for the entire flight. The internet weather service used by the pilot contained a disclaimer stating the service “is not a substitute for an official flight briefing.” The weather was reportedly good until 10 miles north of the destination, where the flight encountered rain and low ceilings. The onboard radar indicated that weather had deteriorated behind the route of flight and along the proposed route of flight. Weather conditions continued to deteriorate and the pilot elected to perform a precautionary landing with a quartering tailwind. About 30 feet above the ground, the helicopter settled rapidly. The pilot added power to slow the descent and the helicopter made a firm landing with about 10 knots of forward speed. The right skid then dug into the soft field and the helicopter rolled onto its right side. A ground fire subsequently ensued.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the helicopter during the flight. The helicopter’s Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) stated that the primary source of preflight weather briefings is an individual briefing obtained from a briefer. Other sources include the internet-accessed Direct User Access Terminal System. The AIM advises that weather services provided by entities other than Federal Aviation Administration, National Weather Service (NWS), or their contractors may not meet quality control standards; the internet sites the pilot referenced were not supported by these entities. The AIM also indicated all "flight-related, aviation weather decisions must be based on primary weather products" that meet regulatory requirements. Prior to departure the NWS was reporting instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) in the destination area and an AIRMET for IMC was current for the route of flight that extended over the accident site.

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

The hard landing the pilot performed with a quartering tailwind, leading to the helicopter's rollover. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s reliance on a weather service that did not provide a primary weather product.

Full narrative available

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