Accident Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III N978RH, Monday 6 February 2017
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Date:Monday 6 February 2017
Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III
Owner/operator:Republic Helicopters Inc
Registration: N978RH
MSN: 4075
Year of manufacture:1989
Total airframe hrs:15287 hours
Engine model:Allison 250-C20J
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:West Bay, near Galveston, TX -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Galveston, TX
Destination airport:El Paso, TX (2TE1)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The non-scheduled passenger helicopter flight, chartered by inspection company SGS, departed from an oil tanker ship that was anchored in a bay. The pilot reported that the departure had been delayed, but, when the helicopter did depart, the weather was "good." He said he had more than 6 miles visibility, that and he could see the moon above and the water below, and that his en route altitude was between 700 and 800 feet. He added that as the flight approached the shore at 500 feet, he could see the city lights and lights off the water. The next thing he remembered was being in the water. He and the two passengers were subsequently found by the US Coast Guard about 1hour later. The nearest weather observation station, located 8 miles east of the accident site, reported an overcast ceiling of 400 feet and 5 miles visibility in mist about 17 minutes before the accident. TAFs and AIRMETs issued about 1.5 hours and 1 hour before the accident, respectively, forecast instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Postaccident examination of the helicopter wreckage was consistent with a relatively level impact, and no pre-impact mechanical anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the flight encountered IMC at night and that the pilot did not properly gauge the distance of the helicopter from the water, which led to its collision with the water.

Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to recognize the flight had encountered instrument meteorological conditions at night, which resulted in an unrecognized descent and collision with water.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: CEN17FA100
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 10 months
Download report: Final report


FAA register:



Photo: NTSB


Revision history:

07-Feb-2017 08:27 gerard57 Added
07-Feb-2017 15:10 Paje69 Updated [Aircraft type, Country, Source]
07-Feb-2017 15:11 harro Updated [Location, Country]
07-Feb-2017 15:14 harro Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Source]
07-Feb-2017 17:35 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Location, Nature, Source, Narrative]
07-Feb-2017 19:57 Aerossurance Updated [Location]
08-Feb-2017 06:49 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
04-Mar-2017 14:20 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
04-Mar-2017 15:31 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type]
04-Mar-2017 16:21 Aerossurance Updated [Location]
03-Jun-2017 17:31 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
16-Dec-2017 14:54 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Registration, Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
16-Dec-2017 17:01 harro Updated [Source, Narrative]
16-Dec-2017 17:03 harro Updated [Photo, ]
25-Dec-2020 15:16 harro Updated [Nature]
06-Feb-2021 10:11 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Source, Embed code, Narrative, Accident report]
06-Feb-2021 10:12 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Embed code, Accident report]
27-Nov-2023 14:22 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Source]

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