Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Robinson R44, VH-YYF, Hughenden Qld, on 1 February 2015

Investigation number:
AO-2015-014
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 1 February 2015, the pilot of a Robinson R44 helicopter, registered VH-YYF, prepared for a local flight at Warwombie Station, near Hughenden, Queensland. The pilot did not observe any abnormalities during the pre-flight inspection, with oil quantity within the normal range, about 80 L of fuel on board, and no water or other contaminants found during a fuel drain and check. The helicopter was loaded within the normal operating weight and balance limitations. The temperature was 20 °C, the sky clear of cloud and the wind was calm.

At about 0800 Eastern Standard Time, the helicopter lifted off normally. At about 20 ft above ground level, the pilot lowered the nose of the helicopter in attempt to gain forward speed and transition from hover to forward flight. The helicopter then sank quickly and the rotor rpm decayed. The pilot pulled back on the cyclic control in an attempt to flare and reduce the rate of descent, prior to contacting the ground. The left skid contacted the ground first and then the helicopter spun to the right. The rear of the right skid dug into the ground and the helicopter rolled onto the right side. The pilot selected the master switch off before exiting the helicopter uninjured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage.

The Robinson Helicopter Company Safety Notice SN-24, stated that rotor stall due to low RPM causes a very high percentage of helicopter accidents. These mostly occur close to the ground during take-off and landing. Safety Notice SN-10 reminds pilots to have their ‘reflexes conditioned so they will instantly add throttle and lower collective to maintain RPM in any emergency’.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 40

 

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General details
Date: 01 February 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0800 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Hughenden Aerodrome (Warwombie Station)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 22 April 2015   Occurrence class: Operational  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model Robinson Helicopter Company R44  
Aircraft registration VH-YYF  
Serial number 2090  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Hughenden, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018