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.