DFW07LA109
DFW07LA109

On May 11, 2007, about 1245 central daylight time, a Bell 206B single turbo-shaft powered helicopter, N3RL, was substantially damaged when it collided with water shortly after takeoff from East Cameron 219, located in the Gulf of Mexico. The commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. The remaining two passengers sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Rotorcraft Leasing Company LLC of Broussard, Louisiana. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the pilot, he lifted the helicopter into a three to five foot hover and performed a final check of the "gauges." Reportedly the torque was indicating 96 percent and all other gauges were within "normal" parameters. The pilot then attempted to transition to forward flight. The pilot reported that the helicopter appeared to settle as it approached the deck edge and did not feel like it went through transitional lift. After the helicopter crossed the edge of the deck, it entered into an uncommanded descent and right rotation. The pilot's attempts to regain control were unsuccessful. The pilot deployed the helicopter's floats prior to impacting the water. After coming to rest upright in the water the pilot and passengers were able to egress the helicopter and deploy the life raft. The helicopter subsequently inverted in the water; however, it stayed afloat.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the helicopter once it was recovered. The inspector reported that the helicopter's fuselage sustained structural damage. According to the submitted Accident/Incident Owner/Operator Report, NTSB 6120.1, the operator reported that an examination of the helicopter displayed no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures and that weight and balance was calculated within Center of Gravity limits and 116 pounds under maximum gross weight.

The pilot, age 33, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, helicopter, and helicopter instrument ratings. A second-class medical certificate without limitation or waivers was issued on February 9, 2007 and bi-annual flight review completed on March 28, 2007. At the time of the accident the pilot reported having accumulated 1,071 hours total time, with 885 hours in rotorcraft, and 179 hours in same make and model.

The 5-seat helicopter, serial number 396, was manufactured in 1969. It was powered by a 420 shaft horsepower Allison 250-C20B turboprop engine that was manufactured in 1991. The helicopter followed an Approved Aircraft Inspection Program (AAIP) and the last inspection prior to the accident was conducted on May 6, 2007. At the time of the accident, the helicopter airframe had accumulated 14,378 hours and the engine had 10,648 hours.

At 1253, the weather observation facility at Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH), Lake Charles, Louisiana, located 45 miles north of the accident site, reported wind from 040 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear of clouds, temperature 80 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 61 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 29.97 inches of Mercury.

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