On 13 June 2014, the pilot of a Bell 206 helicopter, registered VH-KSV, conducted a flight from Mitchell Plateau campground, Western Australia, to a remote site about 30 NM away to collect passengers.

Approaching the site, the pilot conducted an orbit of the area at about 300 ft above ground level (AGL) to assess the landing area. As the helicopter descended over trees, the pilot observed that the helicopter was slightly higher than optimal for the approach. From a high hover, at about 10 ft AGL, the pilot continued to lower the helicopter slowly and elected to land towards the rear of a rocky sandstone platform to remain clear of the waiting passengers.

The right landing skid touched down first and only the front portion of the landing skids was in contact with the platform, with the right skid was sitting on a rock. The pilot attempted to raise the helicopter back into the air to relocate to a better landing position, but as he raised collective, he felt the helicopter start to roll and he quickly lowered the collective. The helicopter tipped backwards off the edge of the rocky platform and slid about 2 m down the slope before coming to a halt.

After shutting down the engine, the pilot inspected the helicopter and found substantial damage to the landing skid, a hole in the main rotor blade where it had struck the wirestrike cutter, and damage to the tail boom.

This incident highlights the importance of assessing a landing site thoroughly and conducting the approach to land so as to optimize the opportunity of sighting any potential hazards.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 34