Aviation safety investigations & reports

In-flight cargo door separation - Eurocopter AS350D helicopter, VH-PIH, 28km NW Sunshine Coast Airport, 1 December 2009

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 1 December 2009 at approximately 0730 EST, the forward, left-side cargo door of a Eurocopter AS350D helicopter (registered VH-PIH) separated from the helicopter fuselage during fire-fighting operations near Maryborough, Queensland. The helicopter subsequently landed safely and there were no injuries.

It was probable that separation of the cargo door occurred as a consequence of replacement of the door seal during a recent overhaul. That replacement resulted in the door sitting proud of the mating surfaces when closed and latched. Elevated air loads acting on the door as a product of its overly proud position would subsequently have led to its fracture.

It was considered that the installation of improved door locks per Service Bulletin SB 52.00.25 and SB 52.00.26 would likely address this safety issue and significantly reduce the likelihood of a future AS350 cargo door separation event.

As a result of this occurrence the operator applied the cargo door lock modifications detailed in SB 52.00.25 and SB 52.00.26 to the new door installed on VH-PIH. In addition, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has issued a Safety Advisory Notice to all operators of Eurocopter AS350 aircraft to consider the implications of the safety issue and take action where considered appropriate.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 660KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 489KB]


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Safety Issue

Go to AO-2009-073-SI-01 -

Cargo door seal exceeds flushness tolerance

Installation of new cargo door seals resulted in the cargo door being held outside of the flushness requirement specified in the aircraft maintenance manual

Safety issue details
Issue number: AO-2009-073-SI-01
Who it affects: Operators of Eurocopter AS350 helicopters
General details
Date: 01 December 2009   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0730 EST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 28km NW Sunshine Coast Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Navigation - Other  
Release date: 11 April 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale Industries  
Aircraft model AS350  
Aircraft registration VH-PIH  
Serial number 1341  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Last update 03 April 2020