Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Bell 206, VH-NKW, near Taroom, Qld on 20 June 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot of a Bell 206 helicopter, registered VH-NKW, was tasked to drop equipment bags for seismic operations by using a magnetic bag runner connected to the helicopter by a 100 ft long-line.

The helicopter lifted off with seven bags loaded on the runner. During the flight of about 2 NM, the pilot observed that the bag lanyards became tangled. The pilot manoeuvred the bags onto the ground and using dual switches on the cyclic control, released the two solenoids to drop the first bag. The lanyard was tangled around the others and the released bag remained hanging and entangled with the other bags. The pilot then released the second bag and attempted to make the bags drop. He then repeated this for six bags and eventually one bag remained connected to the runner with the other bags entangled and hanging from it.

The pilot elected to land the helicopter to untangle the bags. He manoeuvred the helicopter backwards down the slope to land on a more suitable site. When about 10 ft above the ground, the pilot manoeuvred slightly further to the right however the long-line became fully extended. As the line pulled taut it came directly out the left side of the helicopter from under the centre of the left skid. This caused the helicopter to roll to the right.

The main rotor blade collided with the ground before the pilot reached the long-line release switch. The helicopter rolled over and came to rest inverted, resulting in substantial damage.

This incident demonstrates the importance of using equipment in accordance with established best practice. The operator advised that the bag runner is no longer to be used for bag layout operations; it is only to be used for bag retrieval/pick-up.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 34

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General details
Date: 20 June 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1530 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Taroom Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 03 September 2014   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206L-3  
Aircraft registration VH-NKW  
Serial number 51463  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Scotia 3D Seismic Camp, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018