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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