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On 18 September 2016, at about 1355 Eastern Standard Time EST, the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-PFX, commenced aerial mustering on a property about 15 km south of Coen, Queensland.

After successfully mustering one mob of cattle into a yard, the pilot started moving a second mob towards the north. The cattle started to move west instead of north, so the pilot descended closer to the cattle to encourage them to turn.

At about 1415, the helicopter was about 10 ft above the ground, at an airspeed of 40 to 50 kt, when a cow with long horns charged and reared up at the helicopter. The cow’s horn went over the right skid of the helicopter, trapping the skid underneath it. The pilot applied full left cyclic and raised the collective, but the helicopter rolled to the right. The main rotor blade struck the ground and the helicopter collided with the ground and slid about 10 m along a dirt road.

As the helicopter slid along the ground, it caught fire. The pilot exited with minor injuries and the helicopter was destroyed.

Aerial mustering, as with other low-flying operations, carries an inherent level of risk. At low level there is limited opportunity to react and respond to an abnormal situation.


Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 55

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General details
Date: 18 September 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 14:36 EST  
Location   (show map):Coen Aerodrome, S 15 Km (Peninsula Development Road) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Animal strike 
Release date: 14 December 2016 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 BETA 
Aircraft registration: VH-PFX 
Serial number: 3464 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
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Last update 18 April 2017