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Final Report

Summary

On the morning of 20 February 2016, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-LYW, was conducting aerial cattle mustering operations on a property about 88 km northeast of Roma, Queensland.

The pilot had mustered in that paddock several times previously, and was aware of a set of high voltage transmission wires that had been erected across the property in the previous 12 months.

Prior to commencing mustering, the pilot overflew the paddock, sighted the powerlines and formed a plan to muster the cattle from north to south, giving due consideration to the wires running east-west. The pilot then mustered the mob from north to south, and the helicopter remained above the wires during that time.

The pilot then saw another vegetated area near the dam, where cattle may be hidden from view, and flew the helicopter towards it. While the pilot’s focus was on searching for cattle in the scrub below, the helicopter neared the powerlines. The pilot’s attention suddenly returned to the wires. Sighting them close in front at the same level, the pilot immediately commenced a near-vertical climb to try to avoid them. As the helicopter climbed, the pilot assessed that it was not going to clear the earth wire, and lowered the nose of the helicopter in an attempt to pass below the earth wire and above the other wires. The tail rotor blade struck the earth wire.

The tail rotor failed and the helicopter yawed around. The helicopter descended rapidly and continued to rotate. As it descended, the pilot closed the throttle, overriding the governor. When the helicopter neared the ground, the pilot raised collective to try to cushion the landing. The helicopter collided with the ground nearly upright, and sustained substantial damage. The pilot was seriously injured.  

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 48

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