The helicopter pilot reported that during an early morning flight, the visibility was good, but it was still dark.
He said the Robinson R44 helicopter climbed to about 300′ above ground level and she noticed that her iPad was not showing her location. While attempting to fix the iPad, she inadvertently pushed the cyclic forward.
She reported that when she re-focused her attention outside the helicopter, impact was imminent, and the helicopter hit trees.
The helicopter came to rest on its left side facing the opposite direction of travel.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both rotor systems.
The pilot reported in the recommendation section of the National Transportation Board pilot aircraft accident report that the accident could have been prevented by not allowing herself to become distracted during flight.
The pilot reported there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s distraction due to her malfunctioning iPad, which led to her inadvertent forward cyclic application.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA140
This February 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.