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On 12 November 2016, a Robinson R44 helicopter, registered VH-YMJ, departed from a landing site on the Riversleigh Station property for the return leg of a private sight-seeing flight to Adels Grove aircraft landing area, Queensland. On board the helicopter were the pilot and three passengers.

At about 1420 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot attempted the last planned departure of the day from the landing site for the return flight. The pilot reported that there were no power performance issues in the hover, but then during the initial climb, at about 100–130 ft above ground level and between 15–20 kt airspeed, the helicopter started to experience a loss of performance. The helicopter started to descend and the pilot advised there was insufficient engine power to prevent the descent.

The right skid of the helicopter landed first, on the side of a dirt road, and the left skid landed off the side of the road below the right skid, which resulted in the helicopter rolling onto the left side before coming to rest. One passenger received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

This incident highlights the effect of high all-up-weight, high air temperature and gusting wind conditions on the R44 helicopter’s performance. In particular, the combination of high all-up-weight and high air temperature increase the power required and decrease the power available, which can lead to a situation in which there is insufficient power available to prevent a descent. 


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 57

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General details
Date: 12 November 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 14:45 EST  
Location   (show map):near Riversleigh (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 09 February 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R44 
Aircraft registration: VH-YMJ 
Serial number: 2143 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Riversleigh Station, Qld
Destination:Adels Grove, Qld
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Last update 14 November 2018