Aviation safety investigations & reports

Bell 206-B, VH-PHX, 17km NE Sydney Airport NSW, 3 July 1989

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The helicopter had operated normally during the first flight of the day. After DEPARTURE on the second flight the aircraft overflew Pyrmont before heading east along Sydney Harbour. As it approached the Sydney Heads, at 500 feet above sea level, the engine failed. The pilot gave a mayday call and successfully ditched the helicopter some 500 metres from two Army landing craft. After landing in the water the helicopter rolled inverted and floated for about 10 minutes. The crew escaped from the aircraft and after spending five minutes in the water were picked up by the landing craft. Prior to leaving the water the pilot attached a line from the landing craft to the helicopter. The helicopter subsequently sank but remained attached to the line and was towed to Balmoral Beach. An inspection of the wreckage revealed that a material failure of the acceleration bellows in the engine fuel control unit had caused the engine failure. The reason for the material failure was not established. The component has been forwarded to the manufacturer for further examination.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 03 July 1989   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1245    
Location: 17km NE Sydney Airport    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 02 October 1989   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206  
Aircraft registration VH-PHX  
Serial number 2814  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Sydney Airport NSW  
Departure time 1231  
Destination Sydney Airport NSW