Aviation safety investigations & reports

Robinson R22, VH-NWJ, 10km South of Mareeba QLD, 27 July 1989

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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For the ferry flight, the pilot placed an overnight bag on the passenger seat, leaned a swag and fuel pump against the seat and secured the lot with the seat belt. His pre-flight control checks revealed that full control travel was available for the collective and cyclic controls. During the climb the swag slipped and came to rest against the cylic control. At this stage it was not causing any control interference. The pilot intended to fly past the lee side of a mountain and found that the swag was now restricting movement of the cyclic pitch control. The seat belt was unfastened to reposition the swag. At the same time, the helicopter encountered some turbulence. The swag fell onto the collective pitch control lever, pushing it nearly all the way down. The helicopter descended out of control with both the cyclic and collective controls fouled. The pilot managed to regain partial control just before impact and, following the heavy landing, rolled the helicopter into a steeply sloping rock face. The pilot commented later that the critical point in the scenario was reached when he unlatched the seatbelt to fix an annoying, but not serious problem at an inappropriate time. This accident was not the subject of a formal on scene investigation.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 27 July 1989   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 745    
Location: 10km South of Mareeba    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Miscellaneous - Other  
Release date: 24 October 1989   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Aircraft registration VH-NWJ  
Serial number 322  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Mareeba QLD  
Departure time 0740  
Destination Lyndhurst Station QLD