Final Reports: Pilot lost control over offshore oil platform

Aviation International News » December 2006
December 11, 2006, 8:32 AM

Bell 206L-3 LongRanger, Gulf of Mexico, Aug. 13, 2003–The NTSB determined that the cause of the accident was the pilot’s inadequate compensation for crosswind conditions and failure to obtain and maintain directional control. The crosswind was a contributing factor, as was the pilot’s attempt to position the helicopter near the refueling station in a crosswind to perform a hot refueling.

Three people, including the 10,406-hour commercial pilot, were killed and two were injured when the Petroleum Helicopters LongRanger rolled to the right and fell off the offshore oil platform on takeoff. When the helicopter landed, a left crosswind was blowing at 10 to 20 mph; when it took off, the crosswind had reached 45 to 50 mph.

A witness said that after the passengers were loaded and the helicopter refueled, with the engine still running, it started to take off. He said it rose to about three feet above the helideck. “The nose went straight up and down onto the right side” and the helicopter rotated to the right. When the nose pitched up, the tailboom hit and snapped, completely severing from the fuselage.

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