On 13 June 2013, at about 1924 Eastern Standard Time, a Bell 412 helicopter, registered VH‑EMZ (EMZ), departed Horn Island, Queensland on a training flight to Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait. On board the helicopter was the pilot flying (PF) who was under instruction, a training pilot, and a crewman. The PF conducted a practice approach using the ‘Nightsun’ to illuminate the ground below the helicopter.
At 400 ft AGL, and about 0.6 NM from the targeted landing area, the training pilot noted that the indicated airspeed (IAS) was 60 kt with a 500 ft/min rate of descent and the GPS showed a ground speed of 45 kt. The PF looked outside to confirm that the profile and sight picture were correct for a visual approach and adjusted the Nightsun beam onto the landing site. The training pilot also looked out of the cockpit and when he looked back inside the cockpit he observed a high rate of descent of about 800 ft/min and he called ‘rate of descent’. The training pilot also observed that the IAS was below 35 kt and called ‘go around’. The training pilot reported that there was no immediate response so he repeated the call to ‘go around’.
The PF reported commencing a go-around and responded ‘going around’. The training pilot reported that he felt the collective move. The helicopter entered an incipient vortex ring state and impacted the ground heavily. The crew were uninjured and the helicopter was substantially damaged.