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On his previous two refuelling stops the pilot filled both the main and auxiliary tanks. At his final refuelling stop the pilot filled the main tank only as he expected to be airborne for no more than a further 30 minutes. The pilot normally used elapsed time in conjunction with the fuel gauge indications to determine his safe endurance. He did not note the time following his last refuel. The final flight lasted considerably longer than expected and the pilot forgot to monitor the fuel usage. Shortly before the accident the pilot noted that the fuel gauge was reading between empty and one quarter full. At that point the pilot had less than his minimum fuel reserve on board the aircraft. He was aware that the low fuel warning system was unserviceable and he could have established radio contact with his home base to arrange for fuel. Suitable areas existed in the vicinty where a precautionary landing could have been carried out. He decided, however, to continue flying towards a stock yard where fuel was located. Approximately 5 minutes later the engine stopped, from fuel exhaustion, with the helicopter at a low height above the ground.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 14 October 1987 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1330  
Location:24 km NE Waterloo Station Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory  
Release date: 26 May 1988  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 
Aircraft registration: VH-HBL 
Serial number: 385 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:19 km ESE Waterloo Station NT
Departure time:1320
Destination:19 km ESE Waterloo Station NT
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