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The helicopter was carrying 360 litres of water based Herbicide and about 90 litres of fuel when it took off the second time that morning. Flying activity had commenced later than planned due to local fog and low cloud in the area to be sprayed. A level area on the bank of the creek was used for loading and the pilot availed himself of the open space over the creek to accelerate before commencing a climb out to the treatment area. This technique involved an immediate loss of ground effect as the helicopter moved off the elevated creek bank. The aircraft failed to achieve translational flight and the pilot "sensed" a power loss as it descended towards the fast flowing creek. The left skid fractured when it struck a log protruding from a low island. The impact rotated the helicopter through 180 degrees causing the pilot to lose sight of the only reasonable landing area on the opposite bank. The helicopter settled and balanced on sloping ground whilst the engine wound down due to fuel starvation caused by a fuel feed line separation in the initial impact. As the rotor system slowed down, the helicopter fell onto its damaged left side. The pilot was using a pad that was not suitable for the operation. The pad was limited by a fence line at one side which was high enough to prevent operations over it at high all up weights and a creek at the other side which caused an immediate loss of ground effect as soon as the helicopter moved off the pad. Trees and high terrain prevented other take-off options. The pilot was using the potential energy of pad height above the creek to gain airspeed quickly and early translational flight. On this occasion he did not obtain translational flight and the helicopter descended into the creek. The pilot overpitched the main rotor blades causing a loss of RPM and power. The engine and fuel components were examined in detail and no mechanical reason for a power loss was discovered. The helicopter was fitted with a spray system that was not authorised for the type in Australia, the performance combination of helicopter and spray system was unknown.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 24KB]
General details
Date: 31 August 1987 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 950  
Location:Running Creek, 56km WSW of Coolangatta Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Loss of control 
Release date: 27 February 1989 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Hughes Helicopters 
Aircraft model: 369 
Aircraft registration: VH-HED 
Serial number: 520384S 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Running Creek QLD
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Running Creek QLD
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