SEA07LA041
SEA07LA041

On January 4, 2007, approximately 1310 Pacific standard time, a Hughes 369D helicopter, N1088G, impacted the terrain after a loss of engine power about six miles south of Lyman, Washington. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, received serious injuries, and the aircraft, which is owned and operated by Highline Helicopters, sustained substantial damage. The local 14 CFR Part 133, long-line flight was being operated in visual meteorological conditions in an area where there was falling snow and ice crystals.

According to the pilot, he made two long-line movements of cargo in light dry snow. After completing the second load, the pilot noticed that the snow had turned wet and heavy. He therefore told the ground crew that he was going to get out of the area. But, as he turned to depart the area, one of the people on the ground radioed him and said that he was going to pass near one of the loads as he left the area. The individual suggested that the pilot pick up this one last load since he would pass so close to it. The pilot therefore maneuvered down toward the load, and then entered into a hover in order to swing the long-line hook forward. Just as he entered the hover, the engine lost power, and because the pilot delayed his autorotational descent in order to allow the ground crew person to find cover, most of the energy in the rotor system was used up by the time he lowered the collective. Because the rotor system energy was used up during the pilot's intentional delay of remedial action, he was unable to control the descent, so the helicopter settled onto the terrain at an excessive rate of descent.

It was the opinion of the pilot that when he changed the angle of attack to put the hook in the right location, a layer of wet snow and ice crystals lifted off the canopy and entered the particle separator, leading to a flameout that did not relight.

An FAA-directed inspection of the helicopter by representatives of McDonald-Douglas Helicopters and Allison (Rolls-Royce) Turbine Engines did not reveal evidence of any system malfunction or anomaly.

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