Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - Kawasaki helicopter, 369HS, VH-XAA, Canberra Airport, 252° M 42Km, 3 June 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 3 June 2011, a Kawasaki Heavy Industries 369HS helicopter, registered VH-XAA, collided with terrain 42 km west-south-west of Canberra Airport, New South Wales. The helicopter sustained serious damage and both occupants received injuries.

Earlier that day the helicopter had departed from a private helicopter landing site about 22 km north-west of Canberra Airport for defence aircrew currency training in the Brindabella Ranges, New South Wales. Pre-departure checks had been normal and the weather was clear.

After identifying a suitable landing site in the Ranges, the pilot reported that he brought the helicopter into a high hover of about 50 -70 ft above ground level (AGL). He assessed that an adequate power margin existed prior to commencing a right tail rotor pedal turn through about 180° to position for landing. Approaching the required position, the pilot applied left tail rotor pedal to stop the turn, however, the helicopter continued to turn to the right. The pilot assessed that he had lost tail rotor effectiveness and commenced recovery actions, but this was hampered by the proximity of nearby trees. The helicopter continued the right yaw through a number of 360º turns while slowly descending. At about 30 ft AGL, the pilot assessed that collision with the trees was imminent and decided to conduct an emergency landing in the clearing below. The helicopter descended rapidly towards terrain and landed heavily in a level attitude, striking a large log. After rapidly rolling through trees then down a bank the helicopter came to rest in a creek bed.

Both occupants exited the helicopter and activated the portable emergency locator beacon. They were later airlifted out by a rescue helicopter.

Download Final Report - Bulletin
[Download  PDF: 5.43MB]
General details
Date: 03 June 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0845 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Canberra Airport, north west 42 km    
State: Australian Capital Territory   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 Kawasaki Heavy Industries  
Aircraft model 369  
Aircraft registration VH-XAA  
Serial number 6614  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Canberra, ACT  
Destination Flea Creek, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018