NTSB Identification: ERA12CA119
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 21, 2011 in Fall Branch, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/27/2012
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N500TN
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Prior to departure on a positioning flight, the pilot checked the weather and determined that visual meteorological conditions existed at both his departure and destination airports. However, while the pilot was following a highway in cruise flight at 400 feet above ground level, the ceiling rapidly became lower, and the pilot encountered instrument meteorological conditions. Moments later, while cruising at an airspeed of 65 knots, the pilot saw marker balls, which indicated that power lines were directly in front of the helicopter. The pilot lowered the collective and entered a right diving turn in order to avoid the wires, but one of the main rotor blades made contact. The rotor speed remained within limits, but the helicopter began to vibrate, so the pilot decided to land in a nearby field. Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the main rotor blade that had made contact with the power line was substantially damaged.

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

The pilot's improper decision to continue a visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a wire strike.

Full narrative available

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