Heliski Flat Light Flight into Terrain (Alpine Air Alaska, AS350D, N99676)
On 15 March 2022, Airbus AS350D N99676 of Alpine Air Alaska was damaged near Valdez. Alaska when landing on a glacier during a heliski operation. The pilot, the sole occupant, suffered minor injuries.
…that while on approach….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…
The helicopter touched down c 200m 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.
NTSB Probable Cause
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.
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