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Philip Argy said...

Logically all R44s without the bladder tanks will be grounded by CASA from 1 May 2013, right?

April 15, 2013 11:10
Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner (author) said...

This is more a regulatory matter for CASA, although CASA has confirmed that all R44 owners are legally required to replace their all-aluminium fuel tanks with a bladder tank by 30 April 2013. You might like to read the ATSB preliminary investigation report AO-2013-055 into last month’s fatal R44 accident at Bulli Tops, NSW. The report has the CASA interpretation and likely action laid out in their safety action (see page 11). See website link below.

April 15, 2013 11:55
Sylvia Else said...

Looking through some of the material issued by CASA in relation to the R44 tank issue, I can see how operators would be given the impression that fitting of the replacement tanks is optional. The word "recommend" and its derivatives appears frequently.

A notice issued as recently as Feburary 12, states: "This requires the operator to review manufacturer’s recommendations and associated data and, where appropriate, to incorporate those recommendations."

A financially pressed operator might easily conclude that it's not appropriate.

CASA could have just issued an airworthiness directive requiring installation by a due date, and left it at that. Then no one would have been in any doubt as to whether they needed to spend the money.

April 15, 2013 11:22
Wally Sturgeon said...

           R44 SERVICE BULLETIN SB-78B

TIME OF COMPLIANCE: As soon as practical, but no later than 30 April 2013.

When you read the above there is no difficulty with interpretation, other than the straight forward "Do it by 30 April 2013". Use of words like 'recommend' are only a smoke screen to gloss over what you should in effect actually do.

For too long there has been an Industry myth and misconception that only Airworthiness Directives have to be complied with. In reality it is the actual content within the Manufacturers's Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (commonly referred to as ICAs) which is the important part, irrespective of what that particular OEM may name their ICA Publications (e.g. Service Bulletins, Service Instructions, Service Letters etc.)

Most of these Maintenance or Service Publications are issued in the name of continuing improvement, or product enhancement etc. where the Top and Bottom lines are all about AIRWORTHINESS and SAFETY. Procrastination and varied weaselling interpretations should not get in the way of  words like 'Compliance and Mandatory', irrespective of the Publication that they are detailed in.

May 2, 2013 15:19
Dennis Hill said...

I do not have all the information required to identify what has occurred in this accident, but to me the real issue is with the fact that the helicopter was being operated into a small grass area surrounded by trees, a building, power lines, and a cliff face that can have high winds and turbulence. The adjacent car park is often frequented by families with small children (to go sight seeing). This is an extremely dangerous place to be landing a helicopter. To me the real issue to discuss is the fact that the helicopter was being operated into an inappropriate location. I wonder if any risk assessments were done prior to flight? I have done a lot of risk management work with Helicopter EMS operators in the USA, Canada, and Australia and most of the operators started to use risk management tools to assess the landing areas. As soon as I heard about this accident I knew straight away that the landing site was not appropriate.

When can we expect to see some safety recommendations on the appropriate selection of a landing area for Helicopters? The last time I looked the regulations on helicopter landing area was virtually non existent.

June 11, 2013 21:00
Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner (author) said...

Our investigation of the Bulli Heights accident is continuing and we will pursue a number of lines of inquiry. Important though the issue of fuel tanks is, it would be even better if we could find ways of reducing the likelihood of a collision with terrain in the first place. At this stage of the investigation, though, we’re not able to comment specifically on the points you make.

June 13, 2013 13:58
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