FTW97LA030
FTW97LA030

On October 31, 1996, at 1715 central standard time, a Bell 206B3 helicopter, N2043B, was substantially damaged following a loss of control during takeoff near Creole, Louisiana. The helicopter was owned by Rotorcraft Leasing Company of Broussard, Louisiana, and operated by American Aviation, Inc., as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 flight. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the helicopter was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company VFR flight plan was filed. The flight was initiating at the time of the accident.

During telephone interviews with the operator and the pilot, the investigator-in-charged gleaned the following information. The company holds an FAA Title 14 CFR Part 133 Operating Certificate for external load operations. The helicopter was equipped with a 100 foot long line and an aluminum basket for transporting seismic equipment to boats in the swamps. The pilot arrived at the loading zone at 0730 and began the daily flights at approximately 0830 to 0900. Total flight time for the day was about 2 hours and the pilot had been at the landing zone for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours when he and other company personnel began to complete the day's activities. At night, the helicopter is repositioned at a different loading zone where mechanics perform maintenance checks before the next days' flights. The pilot started the takeoff without checking the belly hook for the external line. The pilot stated that he "forgot that the long line and basket (aluminum mesh 4 feet x 5 feet x 3 feet) were still attached to the helicopter." During takeoff the helicopter was about 50 to 60 feet above the ground when the basket hung on a fence and the helicopter "was pulled down to the ground and came to rest on the right side." Damage occurred to the main rotors and drive train. The pilot was wearing a helmet and the helicopters' fuel system was equipped with spill safe fittings.

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