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Summary

Summary

The helicopter was being operated on a wildlife survey flight, and while manoeuvring near a crocodile nest the pilot reported an apparent loss of engine power, with a subsequent decay in main rotor RPM. He attempted to regain rotor RPM by opening the throttle fully, applying right anti-torque pedal, increasing forward speed and reducing collective pitch as much as possible but was unable to arrest the descent. When ground impact became inevitable he levelled the helicopter and applied up collective to cushion the impact, but the resulting heavy landing caused the landing gear skids to collapse and the main rotor blades to strike the ground. The engine was still running and stopped by the pilot. A brief inspection of the helicopter was made at the accident site, but with some difficulty due to crocodiles in the area. A more detailed inspection was carried out after it was recovered to Darwin. No evidence was found to suggest that it was other than serviceable prior to impact. The pilot stated that he had departed from Jabiru for the 58km flight with 32 litres of fuel on board the helicopter, and was to refuel at a nearby airstrip for the return flight. Inspection revealed that the amount of fuel remaining in the tank at the time of the accident was 65-70 litres, and the helicopter's all up weight was estimated as being just below the allowable maximum. The pilot later revised his statement to agree that there would have been about 65 litres of fuel on board at the time of the accident, and suggested that he may have over-pitched the rotor system when distracted by outside events as he attempted to find a place to land near the crocodile nest.
 
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