NTSB Identification: ANC13FA017
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Saturday, December 15, 2012 in Beluga, AK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350 B3, registration: C-GYPH
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 15, 2012, about 1000 Alaska standard time, a Eurocopter AS350-B3 helicopter, Canadian registration C-GYPH, crashed in an area of tall trees near Beluga, Alaska. The helicopter was being operated as a 14 CFR Part 133 external load flight, by Prism Helicopters, Inc., Wasilla, Alaska, in support of a geophysical survey project. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The pilot, the sole occupant, received serious injuries. The flight originated at a remote survey site about 13 miles north of Beluga, and it was en route to Beluga at the time of the accident.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on December 15, the operator’s president and director of safety said the accident helicopter was en route to the Beluga Airstrip with a 1,000 pound sling load attached to a 100-foot longline underneath the helicopter. A ground crewmember that was waiting for the helicopter to arrive in Beluga heard the pilot announce over their company radio frequency, in part: “I’m going down.” No further radio communications were received. A search for the missing helicopter was launched almost immediately.

About 30 minutes after the accident, the Alaska State Troopers received a 911 distress call from the badly injured pilot from his cell phone stating that he had crashed, but he was unable to explain to the dispatcher where he was. Concurrently, the operator, from their Wasilla headquarters, reviewed the archived Sky Connect satellite tracking data, which provides management personnel with real-time position reports about every minute, and subsequently relayed the missing helicopter’s last know position to searchers near Beluga. Shortly thereafter, the accident helicopter was found by another helicopter that had been working in the area before being asked to join the search. The wreckage was found in an area of tall trees, and snow-covered terrain.

Search and rescue personnel from the Air National Guard's 210th Air Rescue Squadron were dispatched, and National Guard HH-60G helicopter crew hoisted the seriously injured pilot from the accident site and transported him to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.

The closest weather reporting facility was the Anchorage International Airport, 32 miles east of the accident site. At 0953, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting, in part: Wind, 340 degrees (true) at 3 knots; visibility, greater than 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, 7,000 feet few; temperature, 7 degrees F; dew point, 3 degrees F; altimeter, 29.15 inches Hg.

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