On September 11, 2010, about 1500 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a Hughes OH-6A helicopter, N74LB, sustained substantial damage following a forced landing into the Pacific Ocean about 654 miles southeast of Majuro, Marshal Islands. The New Zealand certificated helicopter pilot sustained minor injuries; the passenger was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated by Jim’s Air Repair Inc, of Port Villa, Vanuatu. The local aerial observation flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from a tuna fishing vessel approximately 55 minutes prior to the accident.

In a written report to the NTSB, a representative from the operator stated that the pilot and passenger/spotter were conducting fish spotting duties when the accident occurred. He reported that the helicopter was in a cruise flight configuration and operating about 600 feet above the water when the pilot felt a vibration through the tail rotor pedals. The pilot descended to about 15 feet above the water; the helicopter yawed right, contacted the water and rolled upside-down. The pilot and spotter successfully exited the helicopter and were later rescued by a fishing vessel.

The spotter remained onboard the fishing vessel to convalesce, however, died the following day as a result of injuries sustained during the accident sequence.

The tail boom and tail rotor assembly were not located and presumably sank. Sections of the fuselage and main rotor assembly were recovered and disposed of prior to examination by FAA inspectors.

The fish spotter was a Philippine citizen employed by the Taiwanese registered fishing vessel. The mechanism of his injuries, detailed postaccident medical treatment and postmortem information was not available.

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