A Eurocopter AS350 B3 Helicopter Crashed During A Search And Rescue Mission?

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On March 30, 2013, a Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopter crashed during a search and rescue mission (SAR) (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, 2014). Earlier that day an individual wrecked on a snowmobile near Talkeetna, and called the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS). The dispatcher who received the call tried to set up a local land rescue. However, no local troopers were on duty, and no locals with SAR experience were willing to take the mission due to the deteriorating weather conditions. Once the efforts to coordinate a land rescue fell through the dispatcher contacted the Alaska State Trooper SAR coordinator. Together they agreed to arrange an air SAR using the Alaska DPS SAR helicopter to retrieve the injured snowmobile rider (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, …show more content…
The pilot elected to check the weather prior to accepting the mission. After determining the weather was suitable, and notifying the coordinator he would accept the mission, the pilot went to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), in Anchorage, Alaska to pick up the helicopter (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, 2014). At approximately 2100 the helicopter was towed out of the hanger and the pilot completed the preflight checks. Once the pilot started the rotors, the airport crew (who assisted the pilot with the helicopter) estimated that the pilot took off about 15 minutes after the helicopter was pulled out of the hanger (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, 2014). The pilot radioed dispatch at 2117 that he had departed and was headed to Talkeetna to pick up a flight observer. At 2142 the pilot notified dispatch he was landing to pick up the flight observer. After the flight observer was on board, dispatch was notified by the pilot at 2154 that the snowmobiler had been spotted and he was landing near the rescue site. The pilot and the flight observer landed at 2159 and began walking toward the injured snowmobiler. The snowmobiler was about 0.2 miles from the landing site. The pilot and observer reached the rescue site at 2200 (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, …show more content…
The accident report showed that just after takeoff during the transition from hover to flight, blowing snow temporarily reduced visibility and he lost all visual reference of the surface (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter, 2014). While trying to regain visibility, the pilot decided to abort takeoff which resulted in the tail rotor guard and vertical stabilizer striking the surface. Failure of the pilot to maintain altitude/clearance of terrain during the abortion of takeoff was determined to be the probable cause of the accident in the white out conditions (NTSB 911AA Eurocopter,

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