Aviation safety investigations & reports

Tail rotor pitch link failure near Hoxton Park Aerodrome, NSW, 19 September 2008 VH-BUK Eurocopter AS350 BA

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.74MB]

On 19 September 2008, during a flight from Fitzroy Falls to Rosehill, NSW, the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350 BA helicopter, registered VH-BUK, experienced the onset of severe vibration within the tail rotor controls and made an emergency landing at Casula High School. Subsequent examination of the aircraft revealed that one of the tail rotor pitch change links had fractured, resulting in lateral movement of the tail rotor and damage to the tail boom and tail cone.

The pitch link had fractured from fatigue cracking that was the result of stresses induced in the link by excessive play in the heavily-worn spherical bearing. It was probable that bearing wear outside of maintenance manual limits existed, but was not detected, during the most recent after last flight (ALF) inspection.

As a result of this occurrence, the helicopter manufacturer released Safety Information Notice (No. 2000-S-65) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority released an Airworthiness Bulletin (AWB 27- 009) to remind operators, pilots and maintenance personnel of the requirements for ALF inspections for pitch link condition and bearing play.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.74MB]
General details
Date: 19 September 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1710 EST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Hoxton Park Aerodrome SE M/6km    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Objects falling from aircraft  
Release date: 20 November 2009   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale Industries  
Aircraft model AS350  
Aircraft registration VH-BUK  
Serial number 2197  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Fitzroy Falls, NSW  
Destination Rosehill Heliport, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 45 1100
Last update 03 April 2020