A Bell helicopter Company 206 (B206), registered VH-FHY, and a Robinson Helicopter Company R44, registered VH-YKL, were travelling in company returning to Kununurra from a fishing charter to the Cape Dommett area of far north Western Australia.
Approximately seventeen minutes into the journey, the pilot of the lead helicopter, the B206, received a broadcast from the pilot of the R44 stating that "I'm going in hard". The pilot of the B206 immediately turned his aircraft around in a tight right turn and after assuming a reciprocal heading, observed a mushroom cloud of smoke rising from a nearby ridge. The pilot of the B206 immediately broadcast a mayday to Brisbane Centre and began to orbit the site. Brisbane Centre asked the pilot of the B206 to look for people moving about around the wreckage; none could be seen.
With no signs of life visible, and unable to identify a safe place to land, the pilot of the B206 then continued to Kununurra. The first rescue team into the site confirmed that all four occupants had received fatal injuries. The accident was not considered survivable.
The onsite investigation accounted for all major components of the helicopter at the crash site. The centre of gravity was found to be outside the forward limit, and the operating weight at the time of the occurrence was found to exceed the maximum allowable operating weight for that helicopter type.
The short radio transmission by the pilot of the R44 did not allude to a specific problem. In the absence of witness reports of the occurrence, and the lack of physical evidence due to post-impact fire, the reason(s) for the descent from cruise altitude, and the subsequent impact with terrain could not be established.
|Date:||08 November 2003||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1100 hours WST|
|Location:||43 km NW Kununurra, Aero.|
|State:||Western Australia||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|Release date:||11 July 2005||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Robinson Helicopter Co|
|Type of operation||Charter|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|