Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Robinson R22, VH-RGY, Richmond Airport, Qld, on 21 March 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 21 March 2016, at about 1200 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-RGY, prepared to conduct a private ferry flight from Richmond Airport to Bow Park Station, Queensland. The pilot was the only person on board.

As the pilot rolled the throttle on to start the helicopter’s engine, the pilot discovered the adhesive holding the foam cover of the throttle twist grip had deteriorated and become like grease.

After starting the engine, the pilot reported that they looped the bungee cord fitted to the helicopter over the collective control. The pilot then exited the helicopter, leaving the engine running and the rotor blades turning, and walked about 4 m to the airport fence to retrieve a water bottle. The pilot then heard the helicopter engine RPM increase, and turned and ran back towards the helicopter. The pilot then observed the helicopter rotate away from the direction of the pilot, lift up, into and over the fence and land on its side on the other side of the fence, damaging the fence.   

The helicopter sustained substantial damage. The pilot, who was outside of the helicopter was uninjured.

Pre-flight checks are designed to ensure the helicopter is capable of operating correctly. To ensure safety flight, any discovery of an unservicability should be dealt with before flight.

The R22 Pilot’s Operating Handbook Safety Notice 17 includes the following text:


Several accidents have occurred when pilots momentarily left their helicopters unattended with the engine running and rotors turning. The collective can creep up, increasing both pitch and throttle, allowing the helicopter to lift off or roll out of control.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 49

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General details
Date: 21 March 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1500 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Richmond Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 27 July 2016   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22 BETA  
Aircraft registration VH-RGY  
Serial number 1445  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Richmond, Qld  
Destination Unknown  
Last update 14 November 2018