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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA18CA140
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 24, 2018 in Woodland, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/27/2018
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44, registration: N630ML
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter pilot reported that during an early morning flight, the visibility was good, but it was still dark.
The helicopter pilot reported that the helicopter climbed to about 300 ft above ground level and she noticed that her iPad was not showing her location. While attempting to fix the iPad, she inadvertently pushed the cyclic forward. She reported that when she re-focused her attention outside the helicopter, impact was imminent, and the helicopter impacted trees. The helicopter came to rest on its left side facing the opposite direction of travel.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and the both rotor systems.
The pilot reported in the recommendation section of the National Transportation Board pilot aircraft accident report that the accident could have been prevented by not allowing herself to become distracted during flight.
The pilots reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s distraction due to her malfunctioning iPad, which led to her inadvertent forward cyclic application.