Aviation safety investigations & reports

Robinson Helicopter Co R44 ASTRO, VH-YKL

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 4.11MB]

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.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 4.11MB]
General details
Date: 08 November 2003   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1100 hours WST    
Location   (show map): 43 km NW Kununurra, Aero.    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 11 July 2005   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44  
Aircraft registration VH-YKL  
Serial number 0170  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 3 0 4
Total: 1 3 0 4
Last update 13 May 2014