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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 42683
Last updated: 19 November 2019
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Date:11-JAN-1992
Time:13:26
Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III
Owner/operator:Air There Helicopters
Registration: N95AT
C/n / msn: 3295
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Carquinez Strait, near Crockett, California -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Survey
Departure airport:Martinez, California
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
During an aerial observation flight to monitor an oil spill, the helicopter flew into a Pacific Gas and Electrical Company power line across the Carquinez Strait, went out of control and crashed into the water off Crockett, California. Prior to the collision the helicopter had been seen flying over the water towards the west at a height of about 200 feet agl.

The accident happened in daylight and in clear, fine weather (13:26 Local time). All five persons on board (pilot and four passengers) were killed. The power line was not marked with balls or other devices but is shown on the local area chart. In 1974 the power line was struck by another helicopter at roughly the same point. An FAA inspector who flew the same route as the accident pilot reported that the power line was difficult to see until within 1000 feet of it. The inspector indicated that the lack of conspicuousness may be related to the fact that the towers, from which the line had been suspended across the strait, were located 4,426 feet apart.

The NTSB determined the probable cause to be: The pilot's failure to maintain 'vigilant watch' for obstructions while intentionally cruising slowly at a low altitude. A factor was the power line was supported by distant towers and the line was not conspicuous.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) countered on the grounds that, regulations aside, the pilot should have seen and avoided the wires - a correct assumption on the duties of a pilot in flight. According to PG&E, the towers from which the lines were hung was so large in size that the pilot could not have missed it had he been paying attention. Cook and Hamilton's lawyers commissioned a series of aerial photographs that showed that, from the pilot's point of view in the cockpit, the power lines' towers disappeared into the superstructure of a nearby Carquinez Bridge. Without the towers to serve as a warning, the unmarked wires were virtually invisible.

Confronted with the evidence, PG&E settled the wrongful death claims of the two estates shortly before the trial before San Francisco County Superior Court in February of 1993.

Registration N95AT belatedly cancelled by the FAA on July 10, 2013 - 22 years after the accident

Sources:

1. NTSB Identification: LAX92FA088
2. FAA: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=95AT
3. http://www.griffin-helicopters.co.uk/accidentdetails.aspx?accidentkey=9469
4. http://www.check-six.com/Crash_Sites/N95AT-CleanBayCharter.htm


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
24-Oct-2008 10:30 ASN archive Added
26-Apr-2016 13:54 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]

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