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On the evening of 27 July 2011, the owner-pilot of a Robinson Helicopter Co. R22 helicopter, registered VH-YOL, was conducting a local flight from Big Rock Dam to Brooking Springs homestead near Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia. The pilot was reported missing and the wreckage of the helicopter was located the following day, 14 km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing township. The helicopter was seriously damaged and the pilot sustained fatal injuries.

The pilot was attempting to fly visually at low level on a dark night in an area that did not contain any local ground lighting. About halfway into the flight, the pilot inadvertently allowed the helicopter to develop a high rate of descent, resulting in a collision with terrain.

The investigation found that the pilot was operating at night without the appropriate training or qualification in a helicopter that was not suitably equipped. An examination of the helicopter found no evidence of any pre-existent defects or anomalies.

No organisational or systemic issues were identified that might adversely affect the future safety of aviation operations. However, the accident highlighted the significant risk to non‑night-qualified pilots of spatial disorientation and subsequent collision with terrain when attempting visual operations at night.

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[ Download PDF: 970KB]
General details
Date: 27 July 2011 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1826 WST  
Location   (show map):14 km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 12 April 2012 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 
Aircraft registration: VH-YOL 
Serial number: 4463 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Bigrock Dam, WA
Destination:Brooking Springs, WA
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Last update 01 March 2016