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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

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