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Wed, Dec 14, 2011

NTSB Prelim Released In Las Vegas Helo Accident

Initial Findings Indicate A Normal Flight Until Just Before The Helicopter Went Down

The NTSB has issued its preliminary report in the helicopter accident on December 7th east of Las Vegas in which a pilot and four passengers on a sightseeing flight were fatally injured. Radar tracking data shows that aircraft deviated from what was considered the normal route for such flights about a minute before it went down in very rugged terrain near Hoover Dam.

NTSB Identification: DCA12MA020
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 07, 2011 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER FRANCE AS350B2, registration: N37SH
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On December 7, 2011 at 1630 Pacific Standard Time, a Eurocopter AS350-B2, registration N37SH, operated by Sundance Helicopters as flight Landmark 57, crashed in mountainous terrain approximately 14 miles east of Las Vegas, Nevada. The 14 CFR Part 135 flight was a tourist sightseeing flight, which departed from Las Vegas McCarren International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, NV, intending to fly to the Hoover Dam area and return to LAS, operating under visual flight rules. The helicopter impacted in a narrow ravine in mountainous terrain between the city of Henderson and Lake Mead. The pilot and four passengers were fatally injured, and the helicopter was substantially damaged by impact forces and post-crash fire. Weather was reported as clear with good visibility and dusk light conditions.

Radar data obtained from the FAA show that the helicopter departed LAS and followed a normal route of flight easterly out of the LAS airport traffic area, then turned to the southeast toward Hoover Dam. Tour routings are standardized for all the area tour operators. The helicopter was level at 3,500 feet mean sea level (MSL) at approximately 120 knots. About one minute prior to the accident, the radar indicated the helicopter climbed to 4,100 feet MSL and turned about 90 degrees to the left. The left turn and climb are not part of the normal route. Radar then indicated the helicopter descended to 3,300 feet MSL and tracked a northeasterly course for about 20 seconds, until entering a left turn then a descent. The last radar target received was about 1/8 miles from the accident site.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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