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NTSB Report Released: Pomeroy, WA

On January 27, 2018, about 1534 Pacific standard time, a Hughes 369D Helicopter, N369TH, impacted terrain under unknown circumstances about 10 miles northwest of Pomeroy, Washington. The commercial pilot and one passenger were seriously injured, and one passenger was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to McCall Helicopters Inc, and operated by Kiwi Air, doing business as Hells Canyon Helicopters as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 wildlife capture flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from a nearby staging area about 1515.

A biologist from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that the purpose of the flight was to capture and collar mule deer for tracking purposes. The helicopter originally took off from a helipad in Clarkston, Washington about 1306 and departed the area to the west before proceeding north of highway 12. The helicopter meandered generally along the snake river for about two hours before meeting the biologist to refuel at about 1500. During the refueling stop, the pilot had mentioned that it was quite windy. About 1515, the helicopter departed the area to the west, and the biologist returned to the helicopter's helipad.

The helicopter was later located in a northeast to southwest running ravine about six miles to the west of the refueling location. The main wreckage came to rest on its right side at the bottom of the ravine with the nose of the helicopter facing towards the north. Immediately adjacent to the main wreckage were impact marks, consistent with two skid marks, along the lower portion of the western ravine wall; the right skid was fracture separated in this area. The cabin area was mostly intact although the right side and lower fuselage sustained crush damage. The main rotor head was intact and one main rotor blade was wrapped around it. The four remaining main rotor blades were fracture separated and were found near the main wreckage and with blade tips scattered to the south. The tailboom was fracture separated about 2.5 feet forward of the empennage, and the empennage came to rest just north of the cabin area. The tail rotor assembly and tail rotor transmission were found just north of the main wreckage slightly up the western ravine wall. One tail rotor blade was undamaged, and the second tail rotor blade sustained damage to the blade tip. Continuing further north was a net that was mostly closed at the bottom of the ravine, followed by a second half opened net about six feet north and slightly up the western ravine wall. About 5 feet further north was a piece of tail rotor skin, and about 15 feet north and partially up the eastern ravine wall was a main rotor blade tip cap.

The helicopter was recovered to a secure location for further examination.





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