On the morning of 24 December 2014, an instructor and student were conducting circuits and emergency training in a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, registered VH-FTY, on a grass area south of runway 08/26 at Parafield Airport, South Australia. After a number of exercises, including simulated engine failures, the instructor assumed control of the helicopter to demonstrate how to respond to a tail rotor failure while hovering. The instructor was concerned that the student did not fully understand the theory behind the recovery technique, so he planned to slow the exercise down and demonstrate the component parts of the sequence. This approach varied to some degree from the manner in which the sequence was normally taught, whereby the sequence was integrated and relatively rapid.

While hovering into the wind, the instructor commenced the demonstration by initiating a yawing motion to simulate a tail rotor failure. The instructor allowed the yaw to continue through about 360 degrees before slowly closing the throttle, intending to allow the helicopter to settle onto the ground. Contrary to the instructor’s intent, as the throttle was closed, the helicopter began yawing rapidly in the opposite direction and unexpectedly began drifting. The instructor was unable regain full control of the helicopter before it touched down on the left skid and rolled onto its left side. The instructor and student evacuated the helicopter and apart from some minor bruising, were both uninjured. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

The incident serves to highlight the importance of standardised instructional sequences, and the provision of comprehensive guidance with respect to the associated demonstrations and the potential safety risks involved. Where there is any doubt about the best way to demonstrate a particular sequence, instructors are encouraged to seek guidance from the Chief Flying Instructor. While the training effectiveness of a demonstration is undoubtedly important, of even greater importance is the need to ensure that any associated hazards are identified and effectively managed.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 41

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