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Final Report

Summary

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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