NTSB Identification: ERA13LA057
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 15, 2012 in Corning, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2014
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N369AW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
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 helicopter was flying west down a hill over power lines that the pilot was inspecting when it struck the top of the power lines that were perpendicular to its flightpath. The tail rotor assembly separated, and the helicopter impacted the ground and came to rest inverted. Postaccident examination of the helicopter did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation; however, most of the wreckage sustained extensive thermal- and impact-related damage.
The pilot was hired about 3 weeks before the accident. He had no prior power line patrol experience, but he had completed a wire strike avoidance training module about 2 weeks before the accident. The accident occurred during the pilot’s second work day of flying power line observation flights. After the accident, the operator instituted a policy requiring that all newly hired pilots obtain 100 flight hours of power line patrol-related flight experience with company crewmembers before being assigned an operation that would require flying with noncompany observers.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate altitude while conducting a power line aerial observation flight, which resulted in an in-flight collision with wires. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of total experience in the type of operation.
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