Aviation safety investigations & reports

Total power loss - Robinson R22 helicopter, VH-FDL, near Georgetown ALA, Qld, 13 December 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 13 December 2010, a Robinson Helicopter Company R22 Alpha helicopter, registered VH-FDL, departed the Georgetown aeroplane landing area (ALA), Queensland on a private, aerial photography flight over local mine sites.

When returning to Georgetown, at about 150 ft above ground level, the pilot reported that he applied engine power and then heard the engine splutter twice. This was immediately followed by a decrease in engine revolutions per minute (RPM) and the low rotor RPM warning horn sounding. The engine subsequently failed. The pilot regained control of the rotor RPM and conducted a forced landing. During the landing, the helicopter struck trees and contacted the ground heavily. The pilot sustained no injuries, while the passenger sustained serious injuries.

The engine was removed from the helicopter and examined by an independent maintenance organisation. The examination found about 7 to 10 mL of water in the carburettor. A subsequent power test was also conducted and the engine performed without fault.

The helicopter had been refuelled from drum stock on the morning of the accident flight. The drum stock was tested and no contaminants were reported.

An investigation conducted by the helicopter insurer was unable to determine if the water found in the carburettor contributed to the engine failure, or able to identify the source of water contamination.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.6MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 5.49MB]
General details
Date: 13 December 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1600 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 9 km N Georgetown    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 16 May 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Aircraft registration VH-FDL  
Serial number 384  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Unknown  
Destination Georgetown, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018