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On 25 September 2008, a Bell Helicopter Co 407 helicopter, registered VH-NSH, with a pilot and six passengers onboard, lifted off from the helideck of the cruise ship True North on a 45-minute tourist flight. As the pilot moved the helicopter clear of the right of the ship, and at a height of about 10 m above the surface of the sea, a loud bang was heard followed by a total power loss. The helicopter rapidly descended to the water, where it rolled onto its side before inverting.

Despite two of the occupants, one of whom was unconscious, requiring assistance to exit the partially-submerged aircraft, all of the occupants survived the accident. Sometime later, the helicopter sank.

The investigation found that there had been a 'burst' failure of the engine outer combustion case as a result of ongoing high-cycle fatigue cracking during normal engine operation.

As a result of this occurrence, the engine manufacturer conducted a computerised analysis of the design of the combustion case in an effort to more effectively address the relevant areas of high stress. In response to this, and a similar failure in another helicopter 2 weeks earlier, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority released an Airworthiness Bulletin highlighting the circumstances of the occurrence to Australian helicopter operators.

The operator of the helicopter has also advised its intention to change a number of the operational procedures employed during shipborne helicopter operations to better ensure passenger safety.

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General details
Date: 25 September 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0840 WST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Talbot Bay Occurrence type:Engine failure or malfunction 
State: Western Australia Occurrence class: Technical 
Release date: 28 June 2010 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Minor 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Bell Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: 407 
Aircraft registration: VH-NSH 
Serial number: 53376 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:MV True North, WA
Destination:MV True North, WA
 
 
 
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Last update 02 March 2016