On 10 February 2015 an instructor and student were conducting an in-ground-effect hover lesson in a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-YLP at Orange Airport, New South Wales.

The lesson had covered the individual effect and use of pedals, the collective and the cyclic. After each instructor demonstration, the student spent time practicing the sequence.

The instructor reported that at times during the practice, the student allowed the helicopter to move sideways or forwards and instead of easing the cyclic, or pushing the cyclic in the opposite direction of the unwanted movement, the student incorrectly pushed it in the direction of movement.

In the last few minutes of the lesson, the student again practiced using the cyclic in a hover at about 3 ft above ground level, while the instructor maintained a light control on the collective and the pedals. The helicopter began to roll to the right and move rearwards. The student reacted quickly, but firmly moved the cyclic further backward and to the right which resulted in an increased rearward speed.

The instructor attempted to regain control and lifted the collective a small amount; but before control could be regained, the right skid struck the ground and the helicopter rolled further right and struck the ground. The student and instructor exited the helicopter and moved to a safe distance away. The student received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.
Since the accident, the operator has changed some of the company standard operating procedures. The height above ground for early hover training sequences has been amended for ab initio training to not below 5 – 6.5 ft. It was also recommended that instructors keep their hands closer to the controls during low level training and to take-over as soon as the helicopter commences any unwanted movement.

The role of an instructor is a dynamic and complex one. To assist instructors, a manual co-produced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Australia and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) New Zealand incorporates many useful tips and tools relating to the principles and methods of flight instruction.

The Flight Instructor Manual (Helicopter) is available online at the CASA website.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 41


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