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On 30 July 2010, an Aerospatiale Industries AS.350BA (Squirrel) helicopter, registered VH-HVT, was being flown up a valley between Healesville and Narbethong, Victoria (Vic.). There was low cloud in the area, which was sitting on a ridgeline the helicopter needed to cross. The pilot reported that he hovered the helicopter near the ridgeline, about 10 ft (3 m) above the tree canopy and on the edge of the cloud base for about 2 to 3 minutes, hoping for a break in the cloud sufficient to allow passage.

The pilot reported that he decided it was not possible to cross the ridgeline and commenced a right turn to return via the same route. About two thirds of the way through the turn, when the helicopter was travelling at between 10 and 15 kts, it struck a branch that was protruding above the tree canopy. The branch broke the helicopter's right side chin bubble and brushed against the side of the helicopter. The pilot assessed the damage and decided to continue the flight back to Essendon, Vic. The helicopter landed at Essendon without further incident.

An inspection of the helicopter found that the branch had scraped against the flat side of one of the tail rotor blade. A closer examination of the blade found a small void in the composite core of the blade. The blade was subsequently repaired and returned to service.

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General details
Date: 30 July 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1110 EST  
Location   (show map):near Healesville  Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: CFIT 
Release date: 14 October 2010 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Aerospatiale Industries 
Aircraft model: AS350 
Aircraft registration: VH-HVT 
Serial number: 1633 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Departure point:Essendon Vic.
Destination:Essendon Vic.
 
 
 
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Last update 16 November 2015