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Updated: 25 July 2017

Completion of the draft investigation report has been delayed due to the investigator-in-charge being deployed on several fatal accident investigations. It is anticipated that the draft report will be released to directly involved parties in September 2017. Feedback from those parties on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report.

The ATSB investigation is completing lines of inquiry into:

  • the introduction into service of the helicopter’s auxiliary fuel tank
  • the operator’s fuel policy and procedures
  • the legislative requirements for the development of fuel policies
  • the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s oversight of the operator.



Updated: 29 September 2016

The ATSB has completed the on-site phase of the investigation into the collision with terrain involving a McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter, registered VH-PLY (Figure 1), which occurred in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia on 17 July 2016. That phase included:

  • examining the aircraft wreckage
  • interviewing a number of witnesses.

The investigation is continuing and will examine the:

  • weather affecting the flight
  • preparation for and conduct of the flight
  • aircraft maintenance records
  • pilot’s records and history
  • operator’s processes.

Figure 1: McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter, registered VH-PLY
McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter, registered VH-PLY.  Source: Operator
Source: Operator



The ATSB is investigating the collision with terrain involving a McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter on the Flinders Ranges, South Australia on 17 July 2016.

During aerial surveying the engine lost power and the helicopter collided with terrain, resulting in serious injuries to the pilot and passengers.

Two investigators with specialisations in aircraft maintenance engineering will examine the aircraft in Port Augusta where it has been relocated.

As part of the investigation, the team will examine the aircraft, collect necessary documentation and conduct interviews.

General details
Date: 17 July 2016 Investigation status: Active 
Time: 11:32 CST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Port Augusta E 107 km (Flinders Ranges) Occurrence type:Fuel exhaustion 
State: South Australia  
 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Pending Highest injury level: Serious 
Expected completion: December 2017  
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company 
Aircraft model: 369D 
Aircraft registration: VH-PLY 
Serial number: 110887D 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Port Augusta, SA
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Last update 25 July 2017