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Summary

Summary

On 24 June 2009, the pilot of a Robinson Helicopter R22 Beta II, registered VH-HXO, departed Mareeba, Queensland on a private flight to Uaroo, Western Australia (WA) as the helicopter had been contracted to an operator for aerial mustering tasks. After an overnight stay at Alice Springs, Northern Territory, the pilot departed for Uaroo on 25 June 2009. The last known stop for the pilot was the night of 25 June 2009, at Newman, WA. After refuelling, the pilot departed some time during that night. The following morning, after the expected arrival time of the helicopter, and after several attempts to contact the pilot, Australian Search and Rescue commenced a search for the missing helicopter. The wreckage was located about 120 km west of Paraburdoo, WA. The pilot was fatally injured as a result of the accident.

The investigation found no evidence of a pre-existing mechanical problem with the helicopter. After consideration of the available evidence, the investigation concluded that the accident may have been a function of the pilot's control inputs, possibly resulting from pilot fatigue, carburettor icing, night flight, or a combination of these factors.

The investigation did not identify any organisational or systemic issues that might adversely affect the future safety of aviation operations. However, the accident does provide a timely reminder of the need for pilots conducting private operations to consider the impact of fatigue; particularly, during a long flight over a number of days, as was the case in this occurrence.

 
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