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While conducting a survey flight at Ambalindum Station (approximately 135 km north-east of Alice Springs, NT), the pilot of a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, registered VH-HZB, noticed severe vibration of the main rotor assembly and cyclic controls. The pilot landed the helicopter immediately, and a subsequent inspection revealed that a length of aerofoil skin had peeled back from the leading edge on the underside of one of the main rotor blades.

A review of the current information surrounding Robinson helicopter blade debonds found a number of previous incidents involving a similar failure mechanism. Additionally, the issue of main rotor debond had been addressed by a number of airworthiness directives (ADs) issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), along with a number of safety alerts and service letters issued by the manufacturer.

Debonding of the main rotor blade skin was considered to have been influenced by extensive surface erosion observed around the leading edges of the blade. Additionally, the investigation found no evidence to suggest that the actions contained within the current CASA Airworthiness Directive addressing blade debonding issues (AD/R22/54) had been integrated into the helicopter's maintenance routine. The logbooks and maintenance release documents for the helicopter have since been updated to include reference to AD/R22/54 Amdt 3.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 2.57MB]
General details
Date: 29 December 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1000 CST  
Location   (show map):Ambalindum Station  Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Propeller/rotor malfunction 
Release date: 23 December 2009 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 
Aircraft registration: VH-HZB 
Serial number: 880 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Ambalindum Station, NT
Destination:Ambalindum Station, NT
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Last update 14 November 2018