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On 26 August 2017, at about 1100 Western Standard Time, the crew of a Sikorsky S-92A helicopter, registered VH-IPE, were undertaking a winching exercise to a vessel offshore, near Broome, Western Australia. During the exercise, a fracture of the hi-line weak-link resulted in a near contact of the winch hook with the helicopter main rotor. There were no injuries and the helicopter was not damaged.

The crew completed an incident debrief clear of the vessel and elected to complete the flight with open water winching and discontinue further use of the hi-line. The flight was completed and the helicopter returned to Broome without further incident.

The ATSB found that the fracture of the hi-line weak-link and subsequent trajectory of the winch hook was the result of the temporary restriction in the line, which occurred while the helicopter was moving clear of the vessel transfer point. The operator had implemented a change management process for the introduction of the search and rescue capability, but this did not include risk assessments of the role equipment to be used.

As a result of this serious incident, the operator implemented management of change processes for their role equipment, appointed experienced personnel to new search and rescue management positions, and completed an internal and external review of their documentation and procedures.

Hi-line with weak-link and carabiner (left) and fractured weak-link (right)
Hi-line with weak-link and carabiner (left) and fractured weak-link (right)

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General details
Date: 26 August 2017 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1100 WST  
Location   (show map):near Broome Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Miscellaneous - Other 
Release date: 19 January 2018 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Sikorsky Aircraft 
Aircraft model: S92A 
Aircraft registration: VH-IPE 
Serial number: 920038 
Operator: HNZ Australia 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Broome, WA
Destination:Broome, WA
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Last update 14 November 2018