Accident Robinson R44 Raven II N344AK, Thursday 16 May 2002
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Date:Thursday 16 May 2002
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44 Raven II
Owner/operator:Quicksilver Air Inc., opf U.S. Geological Survey
Registration: N344AK
MSN: 12166
Year of manufacture:2008
Total airframe hrs:567 hours
Engine model:LYCOMING O-540-F1B5
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Denali National Park, about 23 miles southwest of Cantwell, Alaska -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:McKinley National Park airport, Denali National Park, Alaska (MCL/PAIN
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On May 16, 2002, about 12:30 ADT (Alaska Daylight Time), a Robinson R-44 helicopter, N344AK, sustained substantial damage while maneuvering near trees, about 23 miles southwest of Cantwell, Alaska. The helicopter was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) public use government flight when the accident occurred. The helicopter is registered to Quicksilver Air Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska, and was operated under contract by the U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, Alaska. The commercial certificated pilot, and the two passengers, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the McKinley National Park airport, Denali National Park, Alaska (MCL), about 11:30 ADT.

The U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Aircraft Services, Boise, Idaho, notified the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on May 16, that the helicopter was being utilized by the U.S. Geological Survey to track caribou. The area of the accident was in the Denali National Park boundary.

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on May 16, the pilot reported that he was maneuvering the helicopter in an attempt to move radio-collared caribou out of an area of trees along the west fork of the Chulitna River. Prior to beginning the maneuvering, the pilot said he conducted an out-of-ground-effect hover power check, and was satisfied with the helicopter's available power. He then began an out-of-ground-effect hover near several caribou. The pilot said that when he raised the collective control to move from his hover position, the low rotor annunciator sounded. He said he did not have sufficient power available to climb away from his position, and the helicopter began to settle toward the ground. One of the helicopter landing gear skids settled into low bushes, and the pilot was able to regain sufficient rotor RPM to move to a nearby landing area. After landing, the pilot found that one of the main rotor blades had a tear in the bottom surface of the blade surface. The other main rotor blade had several dents. The pilot determined the helicopter was not flyable. He said he did not feel any rotor contact with the trees.

The pilot described the weather conditions as clear, wind from the southeast about 10 knots, and the temperature was 52 degrees F.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A failure of the pilot-in-command to maintain adequate main rotor rpm during an out-of-ground-effect hover.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ANC02TA035
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. Accident Number: ANC02TA035 at
2. FAA:


Revision history:

14-Oct-2018 00:26 Dr.John Smith Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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