Aviation safety investigations & reports

Airframe vibration Wollongong Aerodrome, NSW, 11 June 2008, VH-UAH, Bell Helicopter Co. 412

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On the morning of 11 June 2008, a Bell 412 helicopter, registered VH-UAH, was being used to conduct training operations from Wollongong Aerodrome, New South Wales. Shortly after landing on the runway, the helicopter developed severe vertical airframe vibrations that resulted in reduced pilot control. In an attempt to mitigate the vibrations, the pilot raised the helicopter into the hover, however, the vibrations continued to increase in severity. In response, the pilot lowered the collective to set the helicopter back down onto the runway. The resulting heavy landing caused serious damage to the helicopter, but the crew were not injured.

A subsequent examination of the helicopter's flight control system revealed an anomaly with the collective hydraulic actuator. Excessive free play was found to have developed in the bolted joint between the pivot bolt and the pilot input lever, which then allowed vertical vibrations and controllability issues to develop. It is likely that free play at the bolted joint was introduced when the collective actuator was last overhauled.

As a result of this occurrence, the collective actuator manufacturer revised the tensioning procedures and requirements for the pivot bolt assembly during the overhaul process. In addition, the helicopter operator changed its inspection regime of the collective servo-hydraulic actuator units in its fleet of Bell 412 helicopters and issued a 'flight staff instruction' to provide guidance to pilots on what actions to take if they experienced unusual or excessive vibrations during flight.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.54MB]
General details
Date: 11 June 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0900 EST   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Wollongong Aerodrome    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Airframe - Other  
Release date: 30 June 2010   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 412  
Aircraft registration VH-UAH  
Serial number 33034  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Wollongong, NSW  
Destination Wollongong, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018