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On 3 May 2009 at approximately 0620 Eastern Standard Time, a Bell Helicopter Company model 47G-2A-1 helicopter departed Rolleston aircraft landing area, Queensland, on a private flight. At an altitude of approximately 200 ft above ground level during the climbout, the pilot reported hearing a very loud bang and feeling a jolt through the airframe. The helicopter immediately started descending and the pilot noted that the forward/aft cyclic control was unresponsive. The helicopter subsequently landed heavily, resulting in the main rotor blades severing the tail boom and causing some structural damage to the airframe. The pilot reported suffering a minor back injury as a result of the heavy landing.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) examination of the helicopter revealed that two blades had separated from the engine cooling fan as a result of fatigue fracture. The fan cowling had fractured and separated from the engine and there was impact damage to the flight control linkages.

The ATSB examination determined that the fan unit had not been correctly assembled in accordance the Bell 47 aircraft maintenance manual, and that this probably had an effect on the vibration and resonance characteristics of the fan, which in turn may have increased the susceptibility of the fan to fatigue failure.

As a result of this occurrence, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority released Airworthiness Bulletin AWB 63-007, reminding operators and maintainers of the importance of adhering to all current manufacturer's approved data for sheet metal cooling fans and their drive assemblies.

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General details
Date: 03 May 2009 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0620 EST  
Location   (show map):Rolleston (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Powerplant/propulsion - Other 
Release date: 21 May 2010 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Bell Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: 47 
Aircraft registration: VH-IDU 
Serial number: 6765 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Rolleston, Qld
Destination:Rolleston, Qld
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Last update 14 November 2018