Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - Eurocopter, VH-XXW, Bankstown Airport, 13 May 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 13 May 2011, at 1606 Eastern Standard Time, an Aérospatiale Eurocopter AS 350B3 helicopter, registered VH-XXW, impacted terrain at Bankstown Airport, New South Wales. As the result of the post-impact fire, the helicopter sustained serious damage.

The owner-pilot had earlier completed an 'air transit' at about 15-20 ft above ground level (AGL), from outside a hangar, to a grassed area south-west of the main helipad.

While stationary in a hover, with a recorded 15 kt wind onto the right front of the helicopter, and at about 10 ft AGL, the pilot decided to land on the grass. When the helicopter was about 2 ft AGL, the pilot stated that it suddenly rotated to the left in an anticlockwise direction. The pilot was unable to correct the anticlockwise yaw with progressive right pedal input. The pilot then raised the collective lever and climbed to about 10 ft AGL, completing about three to four, 360 º rotations.

At the same time, the pilot noticed the helicopter drifting towards a chain-wire fence adjacent to a freight building. During the uncontrolled anticlockwise yaw, the pilot reported that there were no visual or aural warnings. While still rotating, the pilot decided to conduct a forced landing and slowly lowered the collective lever. The helicopter contacted the ground, rolled onto its right side and was seriously damaged from the post-impact fuel fed fire. The pilot sustained minor injuries.

Download Final Report - Bulletin
[Download  PDF: 5.43MB]
General details
Date: 13 May 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1600 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Bankstown Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 12 December 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Eurocopter  
Aircraft model AS350  
Aircraft registration VH-XXW  
Serial number 7053  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Bankstown, NSW  
Destination Bankstown, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018