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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.

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General details
Date: 02 April 2011 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1821 ESuT  
Location   (show map):Sydney Airport, 46 km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Weather - Other 
Release date: 12 September 2011 Occurrence class: Environment 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
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
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Last update 23 January 2018