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On 12 May 2016, the pilot of a Robinson R22 Beta II helicopter, registered VH-WGB, was conducting aerial work at a property about 221 km east-north-east of Port Hedland, Western Australia.

At about 1030 Western Standard Time, while manoeuvring the helicopter to observe a mustering operation, the pilot felt the helicopter ‘kick’. The helicopter then yawed rapidly to the right and pitched nose down. The pilot applied left pedal in an attempt to counteract the yaw, however, the helicopter did not respond normally. The helicopter rotated towards the ground. As the helicopter neared the ground, the pilot applied aft cyclic, increased the throttle and raised the collective, which levelled the helicopter attitude and reduced the rate of descent. The helicopter collided with the ground in a level attitude.

The helicopter skids and seat collapsed following ground contact. During the accident sequence, the main rotor blades severed the tail boom. The pilot’s helmet struck the cyclic and the pilot sustained minor injuries. The aircraft sustained substantial damage.

This accident highlights the effectiveness of wearing a helmet to prevent a more serious injury. ATSB report AO-2014-058 provides an account of a serious head injury to an R22 pilot who was not wearing a helmet. In a later ATSB report, AO-2015-134, the operator commented that the pilot of an R22 accident would have suffered more serious head injuries if he was not wearing a helmet.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 50

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General details
Date: 12 May 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 12:00 WST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Port Hedland Airport, 220 km ENE Occurrence type:Collision with terrain 
State: Western Australia Occurrence class: Operational 
Release date: 25 August 2016 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Minor 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 BETA 
Aircraft registration: VH-WGB 
Serial number: 3326 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Wallal Downs Station, WA
Destination:Wallal Downs Station, WA
 
 
 
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Last update 18 April 2017