Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Collision During Landing: Eurocopter AS350 BA, N99676; accident occurred March 15, 2022 in Valdez, Alaska

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Alpine Air Alaska LLC

Location: Valdez, Alaska 
Accident Number: ANC22LA023
Date and Time: March 15, 2022, 15:00 Local
Registration: N99676
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS 350 BA 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land 
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled


The pilot reported that the helicopter was being used to transport skiers in support of a commercial Heliski operation when the helicopter inadvertently collided with terrain while maneuvering to land on the glacier.

The pilot stated that while on approach to an area to pick up a group of skiers, flat light conditions made it difficult to discern topographical features on the snow-covered, featureless, glacial terrain. The pilot said that during the approach, he inadvertently allowed the helicopter to descend below his intended approach path, and the helicopter touched down short of his intended landing site. The helicopter subsequently rolled to the left and the main rotor blades struck the snow-covered terrain. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, tail boom, and fuselage.

The pilot reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain a proper approach path in flat light conditions, which resulted in landing short of the intended landing spot and impact with terrain. 


Personnel issues Visual illusion/disorientation - Pilot
Environmental issues Flat light - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Approach Collision during takeoff/land (Defining event)
Landing Roll over

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor 
Age: 51, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter 
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter; Instrument helicopter 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 With waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: April 16, 2021
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: May 22, 2021
Flight Time: 9779 hours (Total, all aircraft), 9978 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 49 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 34 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Eurocopter
Registration: N99676
Model/Series: AS 350 BA 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1982
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1542
Landing Gear Type: Skid 
Seats: 7
Date/Type of Last Inspection: February 16, 2022 100 hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4961 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 39.6 Hrs
Engines: 1 Turbo shaft
Airframe Total Time: 16258 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: HONEYWELL
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: LTS101-600A3A
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 732 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft external load (133), On-demand air taxi (135), Agricultural aircraft (137) 
Operator Does Business As: 
Operator Designator Code: YDAA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAVD,60 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 15:56 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 234°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3400 ft AGL
Visibility 8 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4800 ft AGL
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 260° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.47 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -2°C / -9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: 16 Mile, AK 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Tsania Valley, AK
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 15:00 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 61.262204,-145.87494(est)

Rotorcraft conducting heli-ski ops making an approach towards the skiers and impacted the snow and rolled. 

Date: 15-MAR-22
Time: 00:00:00Z
Regis#: N99676
Aircraft Make: EUROCOPTER
Aircraft Model: AS350
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: OTHER
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
Operation: 135
Aircraft Operator: ALPINE AIR ALASKA

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