Final Report: Spatial disorientation in night IMC downed EMS helo

 - September 22, 2006, 11:50 AM

Eurocopter BO 105 CBS5, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., Oct. 20, 2004–The NTSB blamed the helicopter accident on the pilot’s spatial disorientation and in-flight loss of control after encountering night IMC. A factor was the pilot’s decision to fly when IMC was forecast.

The Metro Aviation helicopter, Airheart One, was flying to DeFuniak Springs to pick up a patient when it crashed in Choctawatchee Bay, killing all three people–the commercial-rated pilot, a paramedic and a flight nurse–on board. The helicopter was destroyed.

A witness saw a helicopter flying either into or behind a big cloud. It was just starting to drizzle and rain. He then saw lightning, followed by the helicopter making a U turn and descending at a 45-degree angle into the water.