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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 140556
Last updated: 7 September 2021
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Date:26-DEC-2011
Time:05:54
Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 206B JetRanger III
Owner/operator:SK Jets
Registration: N5016M
MSN: 2636
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Near Green Cove Springs, FL -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Ambulance
Departure airport:Saint Augustine, FL (6FL1)
Destination airport:Gainesville, FL (63FL)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The pilot, who was SK Jetsí president, owner, and director of operations, received a call from one of his company schedulers about 0335, notifying him about a trip for his largest customer to transport a doctor and a medical technician from Mayo Clinic Heliport, Jacksonville, Florida, to Shands Cair Heliport, Gainesville, Florida, to procure an organ for transplant. To prepare for this flight, the pilot reviewed aviation routine weather reports (METARs) and terminal area forecasts (TAFs) on the Internet; however, he did not obtain a standard weather briefing from a Federal Aviation Administration-approved source. At the time of his review of the METARs and TAFs, weather conditions near the departure heliport were visual meteorological conditions (VMC), with visibility of 10 miles and a broken cloud ceiling at 7,000 feet. Weather conditions were also VMC near Shands Cair Heliport, with visibility of 6 miles and a broken cloud ceiling at 1,600 feet. A TAF included a temporary condition during the estimated time of arrival near Shands Cair Heliport of instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) with visibility of 4 miles in mist and an overcast cloud ceiling at 400 feet.

Just before the accident flight, the helicopter completed a short, uneventful repositioning flight from the operatorís home base at a nearby airport to Mayo Clinic Heliport. During that flight, although the helicopter initially climbed to about 1,000 feet above ground level (agl), it then flew between 700 and 900 feet agl, possibly due to a low cloud ceiling.

About 0537, the helicopter picked up the doctor and medical technician at Mayo Clinic Heliport, departed, and proceeded southwest, flying a track slightly south and east of a direct course to Shands Cair Heliport. The pilot likely selected this route of flight so that he could navigate by landmarks and fly low in order to stay out of clouds. The pilot contacted an air traffic controller 4 minutes before the accident to ask about the status of restricted airspace, which he learned was inactive at the time. The transmissions were routine, and there was no evidence that the pilot or helicopter were experiencing any problems. During the en route portion of the 17 minute accident flight, the helicopterís altitude varied between about 450 and 950 feet agl. The helicopterís airspeed was about 100 to 110 knots. The last three radar returns were consistent with a right turn of about 45 degrees and a 300-foot descent, which placed the helicopter on a near-direct west course to Shands Cair Heliport at an altitude about 450 feet agl. The accident site was located about 1/2 mile south of the last radar return, with a southerly debris path, consistent with a significant change in course and left turn with a continued descent.

The 320-foot-long straight debris field, with descending cuts into trees, was indicative of substantial forward speed at the time of impact. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures or malfunctions of the engine, drive train, main rotor, tail rotor, or structure of the helicopter. Additionally, there was no indication of an in-flight fire.

The accident helicopter was not certified for instrument flight rules (IFR) flight and did not have an autopilot or radar altimeter. Further, the helicopterís global positioning system did not have an optional modification that would have included a terrain and obstacle warning feature. The operatorís general operating manual (GOM) noted that unless otherwise approved by the director of operations or chief pilot, the weather minimums for visual flight rules (VFR) flight in a helicopter at night were a 1,000 foot cloud ceiling and 3-mile visibility. The GOM did not address whether the pilot, as director of operations, could approve himself to deviate from the night VFR minimums in a helicopter. All weather information suggests that there were areas of both VMC and IMC along the route of flight. The recorded weather near Mayo Clinic Heliport about 16 minutes after departure, when the helicopter was nearly halfwa
Probable Cause: The pilotís improper decision to continue visual flight into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the pilotís improper decision was his self-induced pressure to complete the trip.

Sources:

NTSB

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 5 months
Download report: Final report
Location


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
26-Dec-2011 12:33 RobertMB Added
26-Dec-2011 12:36 Alpine Flight Updated [Time, Location]
27-Dec-2011 10:48 Geno Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
27-Dec-2011 11:12 harro Updated [Registration, Cn, Source]
27-Dec-2011 11:37 RobertMB Updated [Source]
04-Jan-2012 11:32 Geno Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
17-Dec-2015 13:47 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:26 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
27-Nov-2017 17:38 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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