On January 8, 2002, about 1430 Pacific standard time, a Hughes helicopter 369E, N369ET, sustained substantial damage following a main rotor blade strike while conducting a wildlife management flight near Grand Coulee, Washington. The aircraft departed an area near Gifford, WA, for a local flight at approximately 1330. The helicopter is owned and was operated by Silverhawk Aviation, LLC, as a visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The commercial pilot and one crewmember aboard the helicopter were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident scene, and no flight plan was filed.

According to the pilot, he and a crewmember were attempting to capture and collar deer utilizing a net gun. The pilot reported in a written statement, "I came up behind the deer, and was working on getting level so the gunner could take the shot. I was not above the deer yet when the gunner took the shot early and shot the net into the main rotor system." According to the pilot, two of the weights from the net damaged the main rotor blades. The pilot reported that he then felt a vibration, and landed in the first available location, approximately 200 yards from the accident location.

The pilot further reported that normally the netting shot is not taken until the animal is below the helicopter's skid.

The pilot reported on the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report NTSB Form 6120.1/2 no mechanical malfunction or failure of the helicopter.

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