Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control during landing, involving a Bell 206B3 registered VH-CLR, 9km south-east of Cooktown Airport (Mount Cook), Queensland, 7 October 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 7 October 2014, the pilot of a Bell 206B3 helicopter registered VH-CLR, departed Cairns, Queensland with one passenger on-board to conduct a charter flight to Mount Cook, about 9 km south-east of Cooktown Airport, Queensland.

To assess the landing area at Mount Cook, the pilot made 3-4 practice approaches and a practice landing prior to continuing to Cooktown to pick up the remaining passengers. The landing area was a rocky ledge jutting out from the south-eastern side near the top of Mount Cook.

The pilot conducted two flights to drop off a total of five passengers. He reported that the wind during these two flights was about 10 knots from the south-east. When he returned to pick up the first load of passengers, the wind had increased to about 14-15 knots.

During the approach to land, the pilot reported that he felt the helicopter was stable and appeared unaffected by the increased wind. As the helicopter prepared to touch down, both the ground co-ordinator and a passenger moved closer to it. Just prior to touching down on the right skid, the pilot felt the helicopter momentarily lift, most likely from a gust of wind, and drift to the right. The helicopter rolled rapidly onto its right side and slid a short distance forward, prior to coming to rest.

The helicopter fell onto the ground controller and nearby passenger. The ground controller sustained serious injuries. The pilot and passenger received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

The roll onto the right side by the helicopter is consistent with the phenomenon known as dynamic rollover. When a helicopter rests on one skid, the aircraft may begin rolling, and under certain circumstances it cannot be controlled.

The operator has advised the ATSB that they have taken several Safety Actions since the occurrence. These are detailed in the report.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 38

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General details
Date: 07 October 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1145 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 9km south-east of Cooktown Airport (Mount Cook)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 27 January 2015   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206B (III)  
Aircraft registration VH-CLR  
Serial number 3349  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Unknown  
Last update 14 November 2018