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Accident Report Detail

Crash of Sundance Helicopters, Inc., Aerospatiale AS350BA, N270SH

Executive Summary

​On September 20, 2003, about 1238 mountain standard time, an Aerospatiale AS350BA helicopter, N270SH, operated by Sundance Helicopters, Inc., crashed into a canyon wall while maneuvering through Descent Canyon, about 1.5 nautical miles (nm) east of Grand Canyon West Airport (1G4) in Arizona. The pilot and all six passengers on board were killed, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The air tour sightseeing flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed for the flight, which was operated under visual flight rules on a company flight plan. The helicopter was transporting passengers from a helipad at 1G4 (helipad elevation 4,775 feet mean sea level [msl]) near the upper rim of the Grand Canyon to a helipad designated "the Beach" (elevation 1,300 msl) located next to the Colorado River at the floor of the Grand Canyon.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s disregard of safe flying procedures and misjudgment of the helicopter’s proximity to terrain, which resulted in an in-flight collision with a canyon wall. Contributing to the accident was the failure of Sundance Helicopters and the Federal Aviation Administration to provide adequate surveillance of Sundance’s air tour operations in Descent Canyon.

Accident Location:   , AZ   Near Grand Canyon West Airport
Accident Date: 9/20/2003
Accident ID: LAX03MA292

Date Adopted: 10/30/2007
NTSB Number: AAB-07-03
NTIS Number: