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Final Report

Summary

On 21 November 2016, at about 0730 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Bell 206B helicopter, registered VH-CHO, took off from a property about 30 km south of Bathurst, New South Wales. The pilot was conducting an aerial inspection of the property, with the farm manager on board as a passenger.

At about 75 ft above ground level and an airspeed of about 40 kt, the pilot and passenger heard and felt a bang.

The pilot initially decided to land as soon as possible in order to check the helicopter to determine the cause of the bang, and started to slow it down. As the airspeed decreased, the helicopter started to yaw rapidly to the right and the pilot, unable to arrest the rotation with left anti-torque pedal, realised they had lost tail rotor authority. The pilot immediately rolled the throttle to the ground idle detent and as the helicopter stopped yawing, lowered the collective. The pilot saw that the rotor rpm had dropped to about 80 per cent and prepared for a hard landing. The pilot cushioned the landing by pulling back on the cyclic, but the helicopter landed heavily.

The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The tail rotor driveshaft had fractured at the No. 2 bearing.

This incident highlights the importance of robust and current training in emergency procedures.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 58

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