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Fri, Aug 22, 2008

NTSB Says S-61 Suffered Loss Of Power In NorCal Accident

Pilot Was Among Those Lost In Crash

Editor's Note: Below is the unedited text of the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on the fatal August 5 downing of a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter on takeoff near Redding, CA, that claimed nine of the 13 people onboard.

NTSB Identification: LAX08PA259
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 05, 2008 in Redding, CA
Aircraft: Sikorsky S-61N, registration: N612AZ
Injuries: 9 Fatal, 4 Serious.

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 August 5, 2008, at 1941 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky, S-61N helicopter, N612AZ, experienced a loss of power to the main rotor during takeoff initial climb, and subsequently impacted trees and terrain near Redding, California. Postimpact fire destroyed the helicopter. The airline transport pilot and 8 passengers were fatally injured, and the commercial copilot and 3 passengers were seriously injured.

The helicopter was being operated under contract to the United States Forest Service by Carson Helicopter Services, Inc., as a public-use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that was originating at the time of the accident. A company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed. The helicopter was departing from Helispot 44 (H-44, elevation 5,935 feet) en route to Helispot 36 (H-36, elevation 2,516 feet) when the accident occurred.

The helicopter had been assigned to transport approximately 50 wildland firefighter helitack crewmembers out of the Trinity Alps Wilderness of the Shasta Trinity National Forest due to forecasted worsening weather conditions. The helicopter had completed two trips, and had gone to Trinity Helibase to refuel. After it had refueled, it returned to H-44 for its third load of passengers.

During departure, the helicopter impacted trees and subsequently terrain, coming to rest on its left side. A postcrash fire consumed the aircraft.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov, www.fs.fed.us/, www.carsonhelicopters.com/



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