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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.

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General details
Date: 13 December 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1600 EST  
Location   (show map):9 km N Georgetown Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 16 May 2011 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Serious 
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
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Last update 14 November 2018