Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control involving a Robinson R22, VH-HTD, Princess Charlotte Bay, Qld, 9 December 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 9 December 2012 at about 1700 Eastern Standard Time, a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-HTD, departed a fishing camp situated on the mouth of the Normandy River, Queensland, on a private flight. The pilot was the only person on board. 

The pilot was tracking north-west along the coastline at about 600 ft above ground level (AGL) when he sighted an object in the water, about 100 m from the coast. The pilot turned the helicopter towards the object and descended to have a closer look. 

As the pilot approached the object, he initiated a flare to reduce the airspeed and rate of descent.  During the flare, the tail rotor contacted the water and the helicopter began to rotate to the right about the yaw axis.  The pilot closed the throttle and the helicopter settled into the water and rolled over to the right. The pilot exited through the passenger door without injury and swam to shore. 

Robinson Helicopter Company issued Safety Notice SN-19 in regard to the hazards of low level flight over water; particularly the lack of depth perception. Even choppy water with its constantly varying surface may interfere with normal depth perception and cause a pilot to misjudge their height above water.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 16

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 118KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOCX: 910KB]
General details
Date: 09 December 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1700 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Princess Charlotte Bay    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Ground strike  
Release date: 21 March 2013   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Aircraft registration VH-HTD  
Serial number 3122  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Princess Charlotte Bay, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018