On 28 February 2015, at about 1232 Eastern Standard Time, an Enstrom 280 helicopter, registered VH-YHD, departed from Caloundra Airport, for a flight to Redcliffe Airport, Queensland, the pilot was the only person on board.

After about half an hour, the pilot commenced a descent from 1,500 ft above ground level (AGL). The pilot then broadcast on the Redcliffe common traffic advisory frequency that YHD would join the Redcliffe circuit in about 6 minutes. They navigated along the coastline toward Redcliffe.

At about 1,000 ft AGL, the pilot heard a bang and the engine stopped. This caused the helicopter to yaw to the left violently. The pilot then attempted to restart the engine but was unsuccessful. At about 800 ft AGL, the helicopter entered autorotation and the pilot prepared to land on the beach. The pilot observed people swimming in the sea and manoeuvred the helicopter to an area where there were no people. The pilot arrested the descent and the skids contacted the sand. The helicopter continued to move forward along the sand, and then a few seconds later the helicopter blades impacted the sand. The pilot received minor injuries and the helicopter was destroyed.

When planning a particular flight it is important for pilots to consider options and risk. In this accident, the pilot opted to follow the coastline, allowing for the option to land on the beach. The pilot in the pre-flight planning identified the hazard (flying over water) and although the likelihood of an engine failure was low, the consequences were high and made the decision to follow the coastline to mitigate the risk. If the pilot had selected the option to fly the most direct path, the engine would have failed over the water.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin Issue 44

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