On 18 May 2014 a Robinson Company R22 Beta aircraft was conducting cattle mustering on GoGo Station near Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia.

Late in the afternoon, as the pilot was manoeuvring the helicopter at low level, the tail rotor struck the ground.

The helicopter commenced a severe right yaw. The pilot kept the helicopter in a clear area, while it rapidly completed about four full rotations to the right.

To arrest the yaw, the pilot immediately closed the throttle which resulted in a rapid rate of descent. In an attempt to lessen the rate of descent, the pilot raised the collective. The helicopter struck the ground heavily, and then rolled onto the right side.

The pilot sustained serious injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

The risks in low level mustering are well known. Low level operations leave little margin for error. The added risk factors of operating in a dusty environment, and in the hour before last light would have reduced that margin.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 35