LAX99LA282
LAX99LA282

On August 24, 1999, at 1220 hours Hawaiian standard time, an Aerospatiale AS350BA helicopter, N6094S, landed hard following a landing approach to an open field at the Mendez Ranch, near Kahului, Hawaii. The helicopter, operated by Sunshine Helicopters under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135, sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot and four passengers were not injured. The helicopter was on an on-demand air taxi flight to drop off the passengers to the ranch when the accident occurred. A company VFR flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated at Kahului airport at 1205.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office in Honolulu, Hawaii, the accident site is approximately 5 miles from the Kahului airport on the 280-degree radial, which would place the accident site west-northwest of the airport.

The pilot told Safety Board investigators that he had made his approach downwind due to noise abatement concerns and set it up with left turns in mind. He said he entered his downwind leg from offshore at 1,000 feet msl and airspeed of 110 knots, and gradually began to descend and slow his airspeed. As he neared the base to final turn point, he noticed that he had misjudged the winds in the area and he found himself "slower and lower than he wanted to be." He said that as he turned final at 75-100 feet agl, he perceived that he was in a settling with power condition. He said he immediately applied left pedal to turn the helicopter back into the wind, but the helicopter continued to descend, so he applied more collective and heard the low rotor rpm horn come on just before he contacted the ground. The pilot stated that the helicopter "hit hard" and sprang back into the air. He said he followed the left turning tendency of the helicopter with the cyclic and lowered the collective to get the helicopter back on the ground.

The pilot later told FAA inspectors that he "misjudged the winds, and ended up down wind, low and slow."

The pilot said that after the accident the winds were out of the east about 25 knots.

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