On March 6, 2003, at 0720 central standard time, an Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopter, N945PT, was destroyed upon impact with water following a loss of directional control while maneuvering in the vicinity of Venice, Louisiana. The helicopter was registered to the Bank One Leasing Corporation of Columbus, Ohio, and operated by Taylor Energy Company of New Orleans, Louisiana. The non-instrument rated commercial pilot and four passengers sustained minor injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and a company flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. The flight originated from the Lakefront Airport (NEW), near New Orleans, Louisiana, approximately 0655, and was destined for the Mississippi Canyon 20 platform located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 6 nautical miles of Boothville, Louisiana.

The 16,000-hour pilot, who reported having accumulated 1,200 hours in the accident aircraft, reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) that a weather brief was obtained prior to departure, and the weather reported at Venice, Louisiana, near the intended destination was 2 1/2 statute miles visibility, with increasing visibilities and sky conditions improving.

Approximately 0715 and 40 nautical miles northwest Boothville, Louisiana, deteriorating weather conditions developed. The pilot elected to execute a right turn and descend to an altitude where weather conditions were better, and sight of water was evident. At a slow rate of speed "estimated no faster than a walk," the tail rotor struck the water. The aircraft yawed to the left and a ditching maneuver was entered while close to the water at a slow speed. The aircraft impacted the water on its left side and immediately filled with water.

The pilot and passengers egressed through the top of the helicopter. The use of a hand-held marine radio aided in the search and rescue. The flares onboard the aircraft did not work, and the raft could not be located due to the aircraft resting in an upside-down position. All occupants were rescued by units of the United States Coast Guard approximately 50 to 80 minutes after they entered the water.

Weather conditions at NEW at 0653 were reported as winds calm, visibility 1/2 statute mile, ceiling indefinite at 100 feet, and fog.

Weather conditions at Boothville, Louisiana (BVE), 40 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, at 0751, were reported as winds from 180 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 1/4 statute mile, ceiling indefinite at 100 feet, and fog.

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