Aviation safety investigations & reports

Hiller UH12E, Perth WA, 13 April 1987

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot intended to position a beacon on the roof of the Perth Control Tower. The task was to be accomplished by sling loading the beacon, which weighed 199 kilograms, below the helicopter. The aircraft was positioned about 40 metres to the north and about 25 feet above the tower. The pilot carried out an approach to the roof and hurriedly deposited the load. The load was then released from the sling, which was left attached to the helicopter. The aircraft was then manoeuvred across the roof with the sling being dragged over the surface. The hook on the sling became snagged on the tower guard rail and halted the helicopter's progress away from the tower and causing it to pitch nose down and roll to the right. With the cable being tensioned by the pull of the helicopter the hook freed itself from the railing and the sudden relaxation of the load on the cable caused it to spring towards the helicopter. The cable flew up around the tail boom and became entangled in one of the main rotor blades. The other main rotor blade severed the tail boom which fell free of the helicopter striking the side of the tower on its way to the ground. The major section of the helicopter then fell to the ground at the base of the tower, caught fire and was burnt out. The tower roof was 90 metres above the ground and the baseplate, onto which the beacon was to be positioned, was triangular in shape with sides of about 60 centimetres long. Specialist opinion was that such a task would be difficult even under ideal conditions but there is evidence that a wind shear was present at about 300 feet at the time of the accident. The pilot's licence was not endorsed for sling loading operations and he was not sufficiently current on the aircraft type, considering its handling characteristics and suitability for sling operations, to undertake such a job. The ground crew were inadequately briefed about the job and their duties, and an inappropriate communication system between the ground crew and the pilot was used. The electric quick release for the lifting hook fitted to the helicopter was unserviceable although the alternate manual system was checked and found to be working. The pilot had recently been retrenched from his permanent employment and had not found other work. It is likely therefore, that he was excessively motivated to complete the task even though he was experiencing difficulty in accurately controlling the helicopter.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 13 April 1987   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1030    
Location: Perth    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 05 November 1987   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Hiller Aviation  
Aircraft model UH-12  
Aircraft registration VH-HKJ  
Serial number 2232  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Perth WA  
Departure time 1030  
Destination Perth WA