Aviation safety issues and actions

External lighting in the operator’s AW139 helicopters

Issue number: AO-2011-166-SI-04
Who it affects: The helicopter operator
Issue owner: The helicopter operator
Transport function: Aviation: General aviation
Background: Investigation Report AO-2011-166
Issue release date: 16 May 2013

Safety issue description

The helicopter’s lighting set-up did not allow independent control of the searchlights by the pilot using the switches on the flight controls, as required by the operations manual and Civil Aviation Order 29.11, and increased the risk of loss of hover reference and distraction in the case of a single light failure or switch mis‑selection by a pilot.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2011-166-NSA-045
Action organisation: CHC Helicopters
Date: 16 May 2013
Action status: Closed

The helicopter operator advised that an engineering order will be developed to change the wiring and switch methodology in the operator’s AW139 helicopters in order to simplify the operation of the searchlights. The changes will be incorporated during scheduled heavy maintenance of the operator’s AW139 helicopters that is carried out in 2013.

Action taken by the ATSB

In response to this safety issue, the ATSB has commenced a safety issue investigation that will examine the control of helicopter external lighting in the context of the night winching requirements of Civil Aviation Order 29.11. The results of that investigation (AI‑2013‑080) will be published on the ATSB website www.atsb.gov.au

Last update 02 December 2019