Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Robinson R22, VH-ZBH, Herbertvale Cattleyard (ALA), QLD on 23 January 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 23 January 2015, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-ZBH, prepared for a private flight to inspect a property at Herbertvale, Queensland, with one passenger on board. Nothing abnormal was found during the pre-flight inspection of the helicopter, and at about 0600 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot started the engine. All indications were normal throughout the run-up checks.

The pilot then increased the power to 104% for take-off and the helicopter lifted off into a low hover. The pilot reported that the helicopter responded normally and he turned the helicopter towards the north to depart. After moving forwards about 10 m, and climbing to about 20 ft, the engine lost power and the pilot detected vibration. He observed the rotor rpm decreasing and the low rotor rpm warning sounded. 

The pilot immediately lowered the collective and wound on throttle in an attempt to increase the rotor rpm and to ensure the helicopter cleared a fence. He then prepared for an emergency landing. The rear of the skids touched down first and the helicopter skidded forwards. The pilot then pulled back on the cyclic to prevent the helicopter rolling over forwards, and the helicopter became airborne, moved forwards and yawed right, and bounced again before coming to rest upright.

The helicopter was substantially damaged due to the impact on the skids, and the pilot and passenger were uninjured.

A post-accident engineering inspection did not reveal any cause of the engine loss of power.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 40


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General details
Date: 23 January 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0600 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Herbertvale Cattleyard (ALA)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 22 April 2015   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22 BETA  
Aircraft registration VH-ZBH  
Serial number 4520  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Old Herbert Vale, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018