Aviation safety investigations & reports

Weather related event - Robinson Helicopter, R44, VH-HXB, 46 km W of Sydney, on 2 April 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 2 April 2011, a Robinson Helicopter Co R44, registered VH-HXB (HXB), departed Orange, New South Wales on a private flight to a property in Macquarie Fields, 27 km south-west of Sydney Airport.

Approaching 30 NM (55 km) west of Sydney Airport, the pilot noticed the cloud cover increase. He climbed on top of the cloud and lost visual contact with the ground. He inadvertently flew into controlled airspace and was contacted by Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The Controller requested weather reports from other aircraft in the area and directed the helicopter to the north, east and then south of Sydney trying to find a hole in the cloud. About 30 minutes after the initial contact with ATC, the pilot saw a break in the cloud and was able to descend below the cloud base.

The helicopter landed at a private property in Macquarie Fields 10 minutes prior to last light. The pilot was not rated to fly at night.

During the event, two arriving aircraft and ten departing aircraft from Sydney Airport were affected.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 4.28MB]
General details
Date: 02 April 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1821 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Sydney Airport, 46 km    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Weather - Other  
Release date: 12 September 2011   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44  
Aircraft registration VH-HXB  
Serial number 1368  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Orange, NSW  
Destination Macquarie Fields, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018