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.