Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Robinson R22, VH-NCL, at Newman Airport, Western Australia on 6 November 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 6 November 2015, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-NCL, prepared to conduct a private flight with one passenger on board.

At about 0830 Western Standard Time (WST), the helicopter lifted off to about 10 ft above ground level, and the pilot commenced hover taxiing. As the helicopter started to move forwards, it encountered a gust of wind from behind the helicopter and sank rapidly. The helicopter landed heavily, then bounced and rotated rapidly to the right. During the accident sequence, the main rotor blade severed the tail, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The pilot and passenger were not injured.  

Loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE) causes a yaw to the right in helicopters with a counter-clockwise rotating main rotor. When operating at airspeeds below 30 kt, a tailwind may result in an uncommanded turn, if the tail rotor is unable to provide adequate thrust to maintain directional control. To reduce the onset of LTE, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Helicopter Flying Handbook, advises pilots to:

Avoid tailwinds below an airspeed of 30 knots. If loss of translational lift occurs, it results in an increased power demand and additional anti-torque pressures.

To recover from LTE:

If the rotation cannot be stopped and ground contact is imminent, an autorotation may be the best course of action. Maintain full left pedal until the rotation stops, then adjust to maintain heading.


Aviation Short Inveatigations Bulletin Issue 46

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General details
Date: 06 November 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 09:18 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Newman Airport    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 28 January 2016   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22 BETA  
Aircraft registration VH-NCL  
Serial number 4430  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Newman, WA  
Last update 14 November 2018