Aviation safety investigations & reports

Power loss involving Robinson R44, VH-NWD, 38 km north west Cairns Airport, Qld, 11 October 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 11 October 2012, at 0845 Eastern Standard Time a Robinson R44 Raven 1 helicopter departed a property near Mount Molloy for Georgetown, Queensland, on a private flight. On board the helicopter were the pilot and one passenger. Shortly after becoming airborne the helicopter experienced a loss of power. The pilot performed a 180° turn to the left and autorotated to a suitable area within autorotative distance, which was a contour drain located downslope from the departure point. The helicopter came to rest and remained upright and the pilot and passenger were able to exit without injury. The helicopter was substantially damaged. 

The helicopter was inspected and the left magneto was found to have a badly worn distributor block, which allowed the timing gear to move and alter the internal timing by approximately 40°. 

Pilots are encouraged to perform a self-briefing prior to every takeoff to serve as a reminder of the actions to be performed in the event of an emergency.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 15

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 135KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 3.84MB]
General details
Date: 11 October 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0845 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 38 km north west Cairns Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 27 February 2013   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44  
Aircraft registration VH-NWD  
Serial number 2147  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Black Mountain Station Qld  
Destination Georgetown Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018