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NTSB Final Report: Kodiak, AK

Location:

Kodiak, Alaska

Accident Number:

ANC21LA020

Date & Time:

March 2, 2021, 15:39 Local

Registration:

N1767

Aircraft:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO R66

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Defining Event:

Unknown or undetermined

Injuries:

1 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Analysis

The pilot, the sole occupant, was making a personal cross-country flight in the helicopter. According to flight tracking data, the helicopter departed and proceeded on course for about 1 hour 33 minutes. The flight track ended when the helicopter was about 70 nautical miles (nm) from its destination, over open ocean water, at an altitude of 394 ft mean sea level, and at a groundspeed of 132 knots. When the helicopter failed to arrive at its destination, family and friends contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and an extensive search was launched. During the search and rescue (SAR) operation, an inflated yellow pop-out float believed to be from the accident helicopter was located on the ocean surface. The search continued with additional SAR assets; however, minimal debris believed to be from the helicopter was observed in the water, and the search was suspended. Days after the accident, debris was discovered on the shore of an island about 42 nm north from the accident site and identified to be from the helicopter. Most of the helicopter was not located, and it is presumed to have sunk in the ocean waters. The pilot was not located, and an autopsy and toxicology test could not be performed.

Weather satellite imagery indicated that as the helicopter approached the vicinity of the accident site, it was likely operating in visual meteorological conditions beneath scattered-to-broken cloud cover. A weather station near the accident site reported wind gusting to 27 knots, which could have led to low-level wind shear conditions. Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident with the available information

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: An impact with ocean waters for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

Findings

Not determined                         (general) - Unknown/Not determined

Factual Information

On March 2, 2021, about 1539 Alaska standard time, a Robinson Helicopter Company R66 helicopter, N1767, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident about 70 nautical miles north of Kodiak, Alaska. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not located. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot’s wife, her husband owned Kodiak Helicopters, LLC, which owned and operated the helicopter. She stated that he had requested the use of the helicopter from a company employee to make a trip to see family located in Kodiak. She added that they had just returned from an out-of-state trip, and after arriving in Anchorage, Alaska, her husband went directly to Merrill Field Airport (MRI), Anchorage, where the helicopter was located.

A pilot for Kodiak Helicopters reported that he was contacted earlier in the day by the accident pilot, who told him that he needed the helicopter for the next few days. According to the Kodiak Helicopters pilot, he flew the helicopter from Palmer, Alaska, to MRI and then filled the helicopter with fuel. He added that he had brief contact with the accident pilot while unloading his personal gear from the helicopter and that the accident pilot seemed distracted and was “not himself.” Additionally, he said that the accident pilot mentioned that a local newspaper was set to publish a story about him within the next few hours, and he wanted to be with his family in Kodiak when the story broke.

According to the Kodiak Helicopters pilot, the helicopter departed from MRI at 1406 with a planned destination of Kodiak Airport (ADQ). The Kodiak Helicopters pilot said he viewed the helicopter’s en route progress via Spidertracks (a real-time tracking system), and at 1539, the helicopter’s Spidertracks data stopped in an area south of the Barren Islands over open ocean waters.

About 1630, the Kodiak Helicopters pilot and the pilot’s wife began making inquiries to see if the helicopter had arrived in Kodiak. They were unable to locate the helicopter and contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to initiate an organized search for the missing helicopter. An FAA Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued, and an extensive search was launched.

During the search and rescue (SAR) operation, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) dispatched a rescue helicopter that located an inflated yellow pop-out float believed to be from the accident helicopter (see figure 1). The USCG stated that an emergency locator transmitter beacon was not received from the accident helicopter. No distress calls from the helicopter were reported. The search continued with additional SAR assets; however, minimal debris believed to be from the helicopter was observed in the water, and the search was suspended on March 3, 2021, about 1130.

Figure 1. Inflated yellow pop-out float believed to be from the helicopter- (Photo courtesy of the USCG)

A review of the archived Spidertracks data revealed that after departure, the helicopter flew south down the Kenai Peninsula and then out over the ocean on course for Kodiak. At 1539, the last data point was recorded as the helicopter passed between Ushagat Island and West Amatuli Islands (two of the Barren Islands), at an altitude of 394 ft mean sea level (msl), on a heading of 186°, and at a groundspeed of 132 knots (see figure 2).

Figure 2. Spidertracks Data from Accident Flight

A review of FAA data indicated that there were no preflight weather briefings or air traffic services provided to the pilot.

Days after the accident, pilots of an air charter company based in Kodiak discovered debris on a beach near Afognak Island, Alaska, which is located about 42 nm north of Kodiak. The debris was recovered and found to be part of the helicopter’s float, skid tube, and fuselage structure. No other wreckage was located.

The pilot’s logbook was not available for review, and recent information on the flight history of the pilot could not be determined.

A review of the helicopter’s maintenance logbooks revealed no outstanding discrepancies or irregularities.

Review of weather data indicated that an area of low cloud cover was located along most of the accident flight path on the western portion of the Kenai Peninsula. The observations from the

Seldovia Airport (PASO), Seldovia, Alaska, about 37 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site, surrounding the accident time indicated marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) to instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions prevailed. Weather satellite imagery indicated that as the helicopter approached the Barren Islands, there was scattered to broken cloud cover.

A marine station located on East Amatuli Island, about 6 miles east-northeast of the accident site reported a northwest wind gusting to 27 knots at the time of the accident. At the time the helicopter passed near Nanwalek, Alaska, about 30 nautical miles north from the accident site, between 1523 to 1526, the south-facing FAA Aviation Weather Camera indicated cloud bases near or below 850 ft msl, while the southwest-facing FAA Aviation Weather Camera indicated cloud bases near but above 650 ft msl. Visibility below the cloud base was above 3 statute miles based on the south-facing camera imagery.

History of Flight

Enroute                                    Unknown or undetermined (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

52,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land; Single-engine sea; Multi-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Unknown

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

Unknown

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

 

Medical Certification:

Class 1 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

May 8, 2020

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

(Estimated) 2355 hours (Total, all aircraft)

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO

Registration:

N1767

Model/Series:

R66

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2015

Amateur Built:

 

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

0660

Landing Gear Type:

Emergency float; Skid

Seats:

5

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

April 7, 2020 Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Turbo shaft

Airframe Total Time:

190.6 Hrs as of last inspection

Engine Manufacturer:

ROLLS-ROYCE

ELT:

Installed, not activated

Engine Model/Series:

250-C300/A1

Registered Owner:

 

Rated Power:

300 Horsepower

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

On-demand air taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Unknown

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

PASO,29 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

32 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

15:23 Local

Direction from Accident Site:

35°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Visibility

10 miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 1000 ft AGL

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

4 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

Terrain-Induced / Unknown

Wind Direction:

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

Moderate / Unknown

Altimeter Setting:

29.16 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

-3°C / -5°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

 

Departure Point:

Anchorage, AK (MRI)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Kodiak, AK (ADQ)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

14:06 Local

Type of Airspace:

Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

Unknown

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

Unknown

Total Injuries:

1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

58.872527,-152.13761(est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Swenson, Eric

 

Additional Participating Persons:

David Longan; FAA; Juneau, AK

Thom Webster; Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, CA

 

Original Publish Date:

September 14, 2022                                  Investigation Class:

3

Note:

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

 

Investigation Docket:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=102702

 

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Created 22 days ago
by Admin

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