On 20 February 2014, at about 0605 Eastern Standard Time (EST), a Bell 206B helicopter, registered VH-BNG, took off from a banana plantation to conduct aerial spraying.

The pilot conducted pre-application checks including assessing the wind strength and direction, the position of the sun, identifying the area to be sprayed and any hazards.

The block was to be sprayed as soon as possible after first light and the pilot planned to conduct the spraying in an east-west direction. After about 5 minutes of spraying, some overspray accumulated on the windscreen, resembling a white paint. The pilot then noted that the on-board smoke generator indicated the wind had changed direction, so he flew the helicopter to the southern end of the block and resumed spraying into wind.

After completing spraying, the pilot commenced a return to the staging area. To comply with local noise abatement procedures, the pilot climbed the helicopter to about 250-300 ft above ground level (AGL) and established a flight path to avoid overflying noise-sensitive areas.

At about 0615, on descent to the staging area, when at about 150-200 ft AGL, the helicopter rotor blades collided with a tree, dislodged a branch, and the helicopter subsequently collided with terrain. The helicopter was substantially damaged and the pilot sustained serious injuries.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 29