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On 10 June 2012, a Robinson Helicopter Company R44 Raven 1, registered VH-HOU, was seriously damaged following a reported loss of power and collision with terrain near Maryvale Northern Territory. On board the helicopter were a pilot and three passengers. One passenger was seriously injured as a result of the accident.

The helicopter was to provide support and aerial filming of a competitor participating in the annual Finke Desert race. A definitive reason for the reported loss of engine power could not be determined. However a review of the carburettor icing chart reveals that the temperature / dew point spread, put the accident flight in the “Serious Icing – Descent Power” operating realm.

The helicopter manufacturer has previously issued a Safety Notice in regard to the use of the carburettor heat assistance system, warning that if used it will reduce carburettor heat on lift off and may require adjustment in flight.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 12

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