Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - Eurocopter AS350B Squirrel helicopter, VH-ROU, 67 km west of Sydney Airport, NSW, 10 October 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At about 0822 Eastern Daylight-saving Time on 10 October 2010, the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350B Squirrel helicopter, registered VH-ROU, inadvertently entered cloud while operating a visual flight rules charter flight from Parramatta heliport to Bathurst, New South Wales (NSW) with five passengers on board. The pilot became spatially disoriented and exited the base of the cloud just prior to colliding with terrain next to the Oaks Fire Trail, which was about 2 km south of Woodford, in the Blue Mountains region of NSW. Two of the passengers sustained minor injuries and were taken to hospital. The helicopter was seriously damaged.

The investigation found that, in the hours prior to, and during the flight, several operational and tactical decisions were made that did not adequately address the risk of visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions. In addition, a minor safety issue was identified in respect of the lack of a requirement for a charter‑specific risk assessment for the flight. The result was that the risks associated with the charter were not adequately addressed. In response, the operator has advised that the operations manual will be amended to require risk assessments in support of all operational flights.

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Alternate: [Download  DOC: 1.21MB]


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Safety Issue

Go to AO-2010-076-SI-01 -

Organisational Operations Manual and Safety Management Systems

The lack of a requirement for a charter-specific risk assessment in this case meant that the risks associated with the charter were not adequately addressed.

Safety issue details
Issue number: AO-2010-076-SI-01
Who it affects: Charter operators
Status: Adequately addressed
General details
Date: 10 October 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0822 EDT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 67 km west of Sydney Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: VFR into IMC  
Release date: 01 December 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale Industries  
Aircraft model AS350  
Aircraft registration VH-ROU  
Serial number 1119  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Destination Bathurst, NSW  
Last update 03 April 2020