Pilot ‘Informed The Passengers He Would Be Conducting An Emergency Landing’

Location: Marathon, TX Accident Number: CEN20LA328
Date & Time: 08/08/2020, CDT Registration: N284S
Aircraft: Bell 206 Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Aerial Observation

On August 8, 2020, at an unknown time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N284S, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Marathon, Texas. The pilot was seriously injured, and the three passengers were fatally injured. The flight was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91 aerial survey flight.

The flight’s mission was to conduct aerial survey of desert bighorn sheep in the Texas Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. When the helicopter did not return for refueling at the expected time, a search was initiated. The wreckage was located about 1200, by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department personnel who notified authorities.

The pilot reported to the first responders that about 5 minutes before refueling; the helicopter was about 800 ft above ground level when he felt a slight vibration. He informed the passengers he would be conducting an emergency landing. The vibration intensified and he was losing maneuverability, the vibration got worst. The helicopter lost  lift and impacted terrain short of the intended landing area. The pilot stated that the engine never stopped producing power.

The helicopter pilot was not in contact with air traffic control.

The wreckage will be recovered to a secure location for a detailed examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov