Offshore Helicopter Crash in Louisiana

Bell 206 L1 Crashes Offshore

 On December 29, 2007, at 1531 central standard time, a single-engine Bell 206L1 helicopter, N211EL, impacted the water in the Gulf of Mexico following a loss of control during approach. One passenger was fatally injured, the commercial pilot sustained serious injuries and two other passengers received minor injuries. The helicopter was owned and operated by Air Logistics LLC., of New Iberia, Louisiana.

The flight originated from offshore platform Chandeleur 63 and was destined for offshore platform South Pass 38, both in the Gulf of Mexico. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight. All times in this report will be based on central standard time using the 24-hour format.

In a telephone interview with the NTSB, the pilot reported encountering a “sloping cloud deck” as he approached the offshore platform for landing. The pilot added that while in a left turn to final approach, he began slowing the helicopter to 20-25 knots and encountered a tail wind. The pilot noticed a settling tendency and reduced the left bank. Additionally, the pilot reported experiencing vibrations and shaking from the helicopter. The pilot added forward cyclic and increased power. The vibration and shaking became worse and the pilot recognized the symptoms of a settling with power event. Due to the low altitude, the pilot was unable to recover the helicopter or deploy the emergency floatation devices prior to water impact. All four occupants survived the initial crash and egressed the helicopter.

A life raft was not deployed prior to the helicopter sinking. The four personnel attempted to swim to the unmanned platform located approximately 100 yards away and were separated by the 8 to 10 foot wave swells. Personnel were located by local boats and the United States Coast Guard. The pilot, who was the last survivor to be rescued from the water, was in the water for approximately 2 and 1/2 hours.

The helicopter sank in approximately 115 feet of water. The helicopter was located and recovery is in progress. Upon recovery the helicopter will be transported to a secure facility pending examination at a later date. The pilot reported the weather at South Pass 38 was estimated to start at 500 feet ceiling and 5 miles visibility and reduce to approximately 300 feet ceiling and one mile visibility on final. At 1751 an automated weather reporting facility located about 22-nautical miles to the northwest reported winds from 030 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, ceiling overcast at 1,000- feet, temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 51 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 30.05 inches of Mercury.

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