Final Report


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

Read report