ASA websiteOn 26 June 2012, following this accident and the R44 accident at Cessnock, NSW involving VH‑HFH, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) introduced Airworthiness Bulletin AWB 28‑012 titled Robinson R44 Fuel Tanks. That AWB highlighted the improvement in the 'post-crash survivability' of R44 helicopters that had been fitted with bladder-type fuel tanks.
The AWB referred to Robinson Helicopter Company Service Bulletin SB-78 that, depending on the System of Maintenance affecting the individual helicopter, required the fitment of bladder-type tanks to all R44 helicopters in lieu of the all‑aluminium fuel tanks. The AWB also strongly recommended that all operators of R44 helicopters incorporate the additional service bulletins SB67, SB68, SB69 and SB82.
On 19 December 2012, in response to a question from the ATSB, CASA advised that:
CASA has drafted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making(NPRM) relating to a unique Australian Airworthiness Directive (AD) that will mandate the Robinson Helicopters R 44 SB 78B Bladder Fuel Tank Retrofit. Release of this NPRM, expected in early in 2013, is subject to confirmation from the FAA as to their intended actions, which will follow their current investigation.
On 15 March 2013, in response to the draft report into this accident, CASA advised that:
CASA has been liaising with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification office regarding the subject of mandating the R44 Service Bulletin (SB) SB-78B. The FAA advised CASA that, after analysis of the data, the R44 fuel system crashworthiness does not appear inconsistent with that of other similar helicopters and they will be taking no corrective action.
Robinson Helicopters advised that they brought forward the compliance date for SB-78B for all affected R44 rotorcraft to April 2013. Given this reduced compliance time, CASA issued a letter to all R44 operators recommending the installation of the bladder tanks and highlighting their responsibilities under Civil Aviation Regulation 42A (4). CASA is also taking steps to determine the SB-78B industry take-up rate.
On 3 April 2013, CASA issued AWB 02-044 Robinson R44 Helicopter Maintenance Requirements (Issue 1), which stated in part that:
Registered operators of Robinson R44 helicopters that are maintained using the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule are reminded that they must comply with Service Bulletins by their due date. The registered operator will be contravening regulation 41 of the CAR and the pilot and registered operator may also contravene regulation 47 of the CAR if they do not comply with Service Bulletins by their due date.
If the helicopter is maintained to an approved SOM then the SOM must have consideration for compliance with Robinson Helicopter Company Service Bulletins. With regards to Robinson Helicopter Company Service Bulletins mentioned in AWB 28-012, CASA would regard an SOM that does not include these Service Bulletins as deficient.
The full AWB is available on the CASA website: www.casa.gov.au