Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
BERING PACIFIC RANCHES LTD: http://registry.faa.gov/N7085K
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03
NTSB Identification: ANC17LA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 02, 2016 in Unalaska, AK
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22, registration: N7085K
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.
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. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On December 2, 2016, about 1200 Alaska standard time, a Robinson R-22 Beta helicopter, N7085K, collided with remote snow-covered terrain while landing, about 10 miles southwest of Unalaska, Alaska. The commercial pilot sustained no injury, the passenger sustained minor injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Bering Pacific Ranches Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as a visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Deteriorating visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Unalaska Airport, Unalaska, about 1100.
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on December 7, the pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to transport a telecommunications technician to the Fort Glenn cattle ranch on Umnak Island. After departing from the Unalaska Airport, the pilot stated that while flying overwater via the Umnak Pass prior to reaching Umnak Island, he observed a snow squall. The pilot decided to return back to Unalaska and while flying in a mountainous valley, a snow squall moved into the area. He stated that due to the deteriorating flight conditions, he conducted a precautionary landing to remote snow-covered terrain to wait for improved flight conditions. During the precautionary landing sequence, white out conditions were present from the main rotor system downwash, and the pilot was unable to recognize any topographical features. The main rotor blades impacted terrain and the helicopter rolled onto its left side. Both occupants egressed from the wreckage, a personal locator beacon was activated, and the occupants were extracted from the accident site via a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65D helicopter.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor system.
The pilot stated that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
The closest official weather observation station is located at the Unalaska Airport, about 10 miles northeast of the accident site. At 1200, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting, and stated in part: Wind 220 degrees (true) at 18 knots, gusting 25 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, broken clouds at 1600 feet; temperature 37 degrees F; dew point 27 degrees F; altimeter 30.19 inHg.
Petty Officer Bill Colclough said the small rotorcraft went down during whiteout conditions in a mountainous area on Unalaska Island.
"They apparently encountered some heavy weather and crashed," said Colclough. "Fortunately, we were able to locate them in time because they activated their personal locator beacon."
The air station in Kodiak sent a rescue helicopter crew to find the pilot and the passenger, who were taken to Unalaska's clinic with minor cuts and bruises.
Coast Guard officials did not release information about who the two people are or if they're from Unalaska.
Although the helicopter crashed in heavy snow, Colclough said it's possible something else brought the rotorcraft down.
"There will most likely be an investigation into the cause of the crash," he said. "The Coast Guard may be a part of it, and it could entail the Federal Aviation Administration and some other state and federal agencies."
At the time of the crash, officials said there was less than one mile of visibility and winds blowing at nine miles per hour.
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) The Coast Guard says one of its aircrew rescued two people after a helicopter crash near the Dutch Harbor Airport on Unalaska Island Friday afternoon.
The 17th Coast Guard District Command Center received a personal locator beacon activation from a Robinson R22 helicopter. The beacon was plotted in a position approximately nine miles south-southwest of the Dutch Harbor Airport in mountainous terrain, according to a Coast Guard press release.
An aircrew on the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley was called in for the rescue. The MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew located both crash victims and transported them to the medical clinic in Dutch Harbor.
The Coast Guard says both survivors were reported to have minor cuts and bruises. The Robinson R22 helicopter reportedly entered whiteout conditions and then crashed.
Weather on scene was heavy snow with less than one mile of visibility and 9-mph winds, according to the Coast Guard.