On 20 February 2014, at about 1600 Eastern Standard Time (EST), a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-YZO, lifted off at Toowoomba Airport, Queensland, for a local training flight with an instructor and student pilot on board.

The training sequence included conducting a simulated tail rotor failure in the hover. The instructor established the helicopter in the hover at about 3 ft AGL and announced ‘practice tail rotor failure, 3 2 1’, and applied right pedal. The student completed the sequence as demonstrated. The instructor then counted the student into a second attempt and as he applied right pedal, the student lowered the collective very quickly. The instructor recovered control of the helicopter and raised the collective however the helicopter landed hard.

The instructor then conducted a walk-around inspection of the helicopter to assess for any damage with none found. The student then practiced the sequence for the third time. After establishing the hover and counting the student in, the instructor applied right pedal, and ensured that he covered the throttle detent and placed his hand so as to prevent the student from rapidly lowering the collective. On this attempt, the student rolled the throttle off and rapidly raised the collective. The helicopter ballooned, to about 8 ft AGL, landed heavily, bounced once and subsequently landed on the left skid before settling level on both skids.

After the landing the instructor detected that the helicopter was leaning to the right. He exited the helicopter and observed that the landing skid was damaged.

This incident highlights the importance of a flight instructor understanding the possible ways a student may respond to a training scenario. The instructor can then guard the controls in anticipation of incorrect control input by the student.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 31