On 7 August 2013, the student pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter registered VH-EGN (EGN) departed from the parking area near the flying school hangar to conduct a session of solo circuits at Camden Airport, New South Wales.

The student had been checked by his instructor earlier that morning and already conducted some solo circuit practice and returned to the parking area.

At the end of the solo circuits, the student taxied EGN back toward the hangar. Facing east, and hovering about 3ft above the ground, the student commenced a left pedal turn to position the helicopter in a westerly direction for landing. The helicopter commenced turning left. When in a downwind position, the student reported that the helicopter weather-cocked into wind and the rotational speed rapidly increased.

The student unsuccessfully attempted to regain control of the helicopter. He then lowered the collective to put EGN on the ground. The right skid struck the ground first, followed by the tail rotor. The student, who was not injured, exited the helicopter. EGN sustained substantial damage.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Helicopter Flying Handbook states that the nose of a helicopter will attempt to weather cock into the relative wind when a tailwind from 120° to 240° is experienced. If sufficient resisting pedal input is not made by the pilot, the helicopter will start a slow, uncommanded turn to either the left or right, depending on the wind direction. If the yaw rate is allowed to develop and the tail of the helicopter moves into this region, the yaw rate can accelerate rapidly. The FAA further stated that, when approaching the downwind portion of a turn, anticipate the helicopter’s tendency to weathercock by applying pedal pressure opposite to the direction of the turn.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 23