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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 48758
Last updated: 15 October 2021
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Date:11-DEC-2008
Time:07:30
Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 206L-4 LongRanger IV
Owner/operator:Rotorcraft Leasing Company, LLC
Registration: N180AL
MSN: 52104
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:GOM, 6 miles south of Sabine Pass, TX -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Sabine Pass, TX
Destination airport:West Cameron157, GM
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The air taxi flight was en route to an offshore drilling platform to drop off passengers. When the helicopter became overdue for its routine position report, the company attempted unsuccessfully to contact the pilot through several means, including radio and telephone. The company conducted an aerial search along the route of flight; however, the helicopter was not located. The company then notified the Coast Guard of the missing helicopter approximately an hour and forty minutes after it became overdue. The wreckage was located 2 miles offshore in 13 to 15 feet of water, along the helicopter's route of flight. An examination of the helicopter airframe, engine, and related systems revealed no anomalies. Damage was consistent with controlled flight into the water.

A cold front had just passed through the area several hours prior to the accident. Visible satellite imagery around the time of the accident depicted mid- to high-level cloud layers in the vicinity of the accident location. Breaks in the upper cloud layers depicted low stratus-type clouds within 15 nautical miles of the accident location. AIRMETS for instrument meteorological conditions, turbulence, and icing were valid for the accident area and route of flight. Cloud bases were most likely below 1,000 feet above ground level and visibility was restricted due to mist and possible light snow. The air temperature was recorded at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature was recorded at 64 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no record to indicate that the pilot had obtained a formal weather briefing from a recorded source.

The pilot held a commercial certificate and an instrument rating; however, he was not approved for instrument flight under Part 135 and was not current. At the time of the accident the company did not have a formal risk assessment program and a formal evaluation of the flight risks was not performed for the accident flight. The pilot normally flew a helicopter in which the flight tracking system engaged when the master switch was turned on; however, the accident helicopter required the system to be activated by a separate switch in the cockpit. This variation was not in the checklist. According to company records, the pilot had been flying the accident helicopter for two or three days prior to the accident. During this time there was no track record for the helicopter, which is consistent with the pilot not activating the helicopter's flight tracking system.

The pilot, whose personal flotation device was inflated and secured, suffered severe chest injuries complicated by asphyxia due to drowning. Two passengers were secured within their flotation devices; however, neither flotation device had been inflated. Two passengers were not wearing flotation devices when they were located; however, two personal flotation devices from the accident flight were recovered and showed signatures consistent with use. One had been partially inflated, and the second had been entirely inflated. The 4 passengers suffered asphyxia due to drowning with probable complication of cold water shock and hypothermia. The investigation was unable determine if the company's delay in notifying the Coast Guard contributed to the severity of injuries in the accident.
Probable Cause: The pilotís failure to maintain clearance from the water. Contributing to the accident was the inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.

Sources:

NTSB

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 8 months
Download report: Final report
Location


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
12-Dec-2008 23:35 harro Updated
08-Dec-2015 13:28 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Dec-2015 13:29 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
03-Dec-2017 12:12 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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