NTSB Identification: WPR12LA036
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Monday, November 14, 2011 in Woodburn, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N16HA
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was using the helicopter to lift bundles of Christmas trees from a field to a loading zone with a 25-foot-long steel line. Shortly after one of the bundles was picked up, it came apart and fell from the line. As the pilot repositioned the helicopter to reattach the bundle, the line became snagged on an obstacle on the ground. He immediately reached for the line release switch, but the line did not detach, likely because he did not make positive contact with the switch. Before he could activate the manual backup release switch, the helicopter pitched down, descended, and collided with terrain. Postaccident examination of the primary and backup release systems revealed no mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. Because the helicopter was no more than 25 feet above ground level when the line snagged, even a successful activation of the line release switch may not have prevented the accident.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain ground clearance while maneuvering with an external load line.

Full narrative available

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