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On 28 June 2015, at about 1500 Central Standard Time (CST), a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-RBO, took off from a property near Daly Waters, Northern Territory, for a local flight including inspection of bores on the property. The temperature was about 30 °C with a south-easterly wind at 10-15 kt. After flying for about 20 minutes, the pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter, landed to open a gate. The pilot selected the governor off, then exited the helicopter, leaving the engine running. The pilot then re-boarded the helicopter and took off.

After a further 5 to 10 minutes of flight, when at about 100 ft above ground level, and an airspeed of 40 kt, the pilot conducted a turn to the south. The low rotor revolutions per minute (RPM) warning horn sounded. The pilot immediately wound the throttle fully open, and lowered the collective to try to regain rotor RPM. The helicopter continued to descend. The pilot attempted to flare the helicopter when low to the ground. The main rotor blades collided with tree branches. The helicopter landed heavily, the skids dug in to the soil and the helicopter rolled onto its side.

The pilot sustained minor injuries and the helicopter sustained substantial damage.

The Robinson Helicopter Company Safety Notice SN-24 states 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 an emergency’.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 43

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General details
Date: 28 June 2015 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1600 CST  
Location   (show map):near Daly Waters (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 07 October 2015 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 Beta 
Aircraft registration: VH-RBO 
Serial number: 0810 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
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Last update 14 November 2018