On 23 May 2014, at about 1100 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-WDB, conducted a local flight on a property about 90 km north of Bourke, New South Wales. The pilot flew the helicopter to a cleared landing area adjacent to a stock yard. From about 600 ft above ground level (AGL), he commenced the descent to the landing site, aiming to approach quietly and slowly to minimise disturbance to stock grazing nearby. When at about 9-15 ft AGL, he commenced a left turn into a light breeze, then at his 11 o’clock position, and entered the hover.

As the helicopter turned left, the pilot felt a violent shudder through the cyclic control. The pilot reported that the helicopter continued to yaw and he applied opposite pedal in attempt to counteract the yaw, however the pedal was ineffective and the yaw accelerated. The pilot rolled the throttle off, moved the cyclic forward and lowered the collective. As the helicopter descended rapidly, the pilot then raised the collective to cushion the landing. The right skid touched down first and the helicopter rolled to the right, coming to rest on the right side.

No aircraft unserviceabilities, including in the tail rotor control system were found other than those sustained in the accident. The drive belts were found intact and had moved forward one groove on the upper sheave consistent with a power-on main rotor strike.

The helicopter was substantially damaged and the pilot was uninjured.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 33