Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Bell 206, VH-FHX, 94 km ENE of Jabiru, NT on 14 September 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 14 September 2014, the pilot of a Bell 206 helicopter, registered VH-FHX, conducted a charter flight from Myra mine camp, Northern Territory with 3 passengers on board. After arriving overhead a specified location, the pilot conducted an orbit at about 500 ft above ground level (AGL) to assess the area for a suitable landing site. The pilot then conducted a second orbit at about 100 ft AGL and noted the hazards including a tree stump to the left of the target landing area and a tall tree to the right.

The pilot then conducted an approach and a vertical descent into the selected landing site. When at about 1 ft AGL, a passenger alerted the pilot to the tree stump on the left. The pilot immediately manoeuvred the helicopter up and to the right, resulting in the helicopter striking a tree.

The pilot conducted a climb away from the site, an orbit and a second approach to land. After landing, the pilot shut down the helicopter and conducted an external inspection. The pilot assessed the damage to be minor and unlikely to affect the safety of the flight. After completing the charter flight and returning to Jabiru, the pilot inspected the helicopter and found the damage to the main rotor blade had worsened significantly. An engineer subsequently determined that the main rotor blade and tail rotor blade had sustained substantial damage and required replacement. 

This incident highlights the challenges of operating in confined areas and the risks posed by distractions. It is also a reminder to ensure an aircraft is fully serviceable prior to flight, particularly following an incident.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 36

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 137KB]
General details
Date: 14 September 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1218 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 94 km ENE of Jabiru    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 03 December 2014   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206B (III)  
Aircraft registration VH-FHX  
Serial number 2822  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Last update 14 November 2018