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During a mustering flight, the spotter asked the pilot to drive some cattle towards the stock yards. The helicopter was flying slowly just above the tree canopy, when the spotter realised that something was wrong. Instead of turning to round up the cattle, the helicopter flew straight ahead, descending slowly. The pilot did not say anything but the experienced spotter noticed that he was busy moving the pedals and cyclic control. When the main rotor sliced into the overhanging canopy of a large tree, the spotter jumped from the helicopter. The main rotor stopped when it struck the trunk of the tree. The helicopter then fell to the ground, coming to rest on its right side. The helicopter was being operated at or beyond its Out of Ground Effect (OGE) hover capability. The OGE capability was reduced by an operating weight in excess of the aircraft's maximum permitted weight and a loss of flight performance, caused by an internally mistimed magneto and, possibly, excessive control movements made by the pilot. Although the pilot had received some training in low flying he had not received any training in the problems associated with operations in the mustering environment. The crash was probably survivable had the pilot's helmet remained on his head during the impact sequence. When the helmet was found, the chin strap was not fastened.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 27 February 1990 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 710  
Location:45km NW of Katherine Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory  
Release date: 12 December 1990  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 
Aircraft registration: VH-HLB 
Serial number: 981 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:42km NW of Katherine NT
Departure time:0700
Destination:42km NW of Katherine NT
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