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N162KA accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 42.789166°N, 123.703611°W
Nearest city West Fork, OR
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Tail number N162KA
Accident date 12 May 2004
Aircraft type Kaman K-1200
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 12, 2004, approximately 0755 Pacific daylight time, a Kaman K-1200 helicopter, N162KA, under pending registration, operated by Superior helicopter LLC, and being flown by a commercial pilot, was destroyed during collision with trees and terrain while engaged in logging operations approximately five nautical miles southwest of West Fork, Oregon. The pilot sustained fatal injuries and there was no post crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight was operated under 14CFR133 and had originated from a staging site nearby shortly before the accident.

Several ground crew personnel working at the accident site reported that the pilot was engaged in logging utilizing a 200-foot long line. One witness reported that the pilot of the K-1200 descended to a hover to pick up a log when the witness reported hearing "...the rotor system slapping limbs...." He looked up and saw the K-1200's right rotor in the treetops and then observed tree fragments flying through the air. The rotorcraft then rolled inverted and descended to the ground. The other witness heard a blade strike, looked up and observed fragments of tree and rotor blades flying. He saw the rotorcraft begin to roll away from the tree into a nose down attitude and then impact the terrain (refer to attached statements).

On site examination by inspectors assigned to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Hillsboro Flight Standards District Office revealed that with a 200-foot long line the helicopter was operating at or near the treetops in the heavily wooded steeply sloped terrain. The ground crew reported that the helicopter was attempting to snag a log when it drifted sideways and one of the rotors hit treetops. The helicopter then settled into the trees and impacted the ground inverted.

According to information provided by the Operator and from records maintained by the FAA the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a helicopter rating as well as a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. He also held a flight instructor's certificate with an expiration date of June 1996 in helicopter aircraft as well as a mechanic's (powerplant and airframe) certificate. Documentation provided by the operator showed the pilot reporting a total of 9,500 hours of flight experience as of June 24, 2003, of which 8,000 hours were reported being in turbine powered helicopter aircraft. The Operator provided a copy of a certificate of completion by the pilot for the Kaman K-1200 pilot familiarization training course conducted by Kaman Aerospace Corporation and dated June 19, 2003. His total flight experience in logging operations and the K-1200 rotorcraft were not known.

James N. Olson, M.D., Deputy State Medical Examiner conducted post-mortem examination of the pilot, at the facilities of Douglas County Morgue, Roseburg, Oregon, on May 13, 2004, (case number A-80-04).

The FAA's Toxicology Accident and Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological evaluation of samples from the right seat pilot. All findings were reported as negative (refer to attached TOX report).

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance with trees during logging operations. Contributing factors were the trees, mountainous (steeply sloped) terrain, and the pilot's decision to conduct operations in this terrain with a 200 foot long line.

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