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The helicopter was being used for a controlled fire bombing and burning off operation. The pilot had been flying very slowly just above the tree tops, then after turning onto a southerly heading he believed the engine lost power, and was unable to prevent it from striking the tops of the trees. It then descended steeply into the ground, the pilot receiving severe back injuries, and the passenger a broken arm. An investigation of the helicopter and engine failed to find any fault, or malfunction, that may have caused the engine to lose power. Weather conditions were very hot with a light northerly wind blowing. The helicopters weight was calculated to be in excess of its maximum all up weight, with heavy items of equipment stored in the areas below the seats, contrary to the flight manual and placarded instructions. Being overweight for the operation, and turning downwind, ie to the south, the helicopter probably suffered a lose of translational lift with subsequent overpitching of the rotor system by the pilot, giving the impression that the engine had lost power. With no available height margin the pilot was unable to avoid flying into the trees.
Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 15KB]
General details
Date: 15 December 1994 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 13:00 CST  
 Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
 Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 01 March 1996 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Serious 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 BETA 
Aircraft registration: VH-JNL 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:South Aligator River NT
Destination:South Aligator River NT
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Last update 21 October 2014