AAIB investigation to Bell 206B3 Jet Ranger III, G-OPEN

Inadvertent climb into cloud and subsequent loss of control, near Aldborough, North Yorkshire, 30 May 2018.


The pilot was flying G-OPEN from Husthwaite to Walton Wood Airfield for its annual maintenance check. The weather conditions en route were challenging with low cloud and reduced visibility. The helicopter was seen by several witnesses to be flying normally before climbing steeply into cloud. It was then seen to emerge from the cloud, rotate through 540°, then descend rapidly, striking the ground in an approximately level attitude. The helicopter became inverted and caught fire. The pilot was fatally injured.

The investigation did not find any evidence of pre-existing defects with the helicopter or its engine. It could not be determined why the helicopter entered cloud but it is probable that the pilot was distracted or became disorientated in the poor weather conditions. Having entered cloud it is likely that the pilot became spatially disorientated and was unable to maintain control of the helicopter.

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Bell 206B3 Jet Ranger III, G-OPEN 03-19

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Published 14 March 2019