Aviation occurrence briefs

Collision with terrain involving Robinson R22, near Alice Springs, NT, on 2 June 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 2 June 2018 the pilot and a passenger departed a station west of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, in a Robinson R22 helicopter for a routine property inspection.

At approximately 1215 Central Standard Time, the pilot conducted a landing at a bore site and the passenger exited the helicopter. The pilot then also exited the helicopter with the engine still running. Shortly after exiting and moving away from the helicopter, the pilot heard the engine power up and began to run towards the helicopter. The helicopter then began to move and the pilot stopped moving towards it.

The helicopter was observed to move backwards and the tail rotor dug into the ground, flipping the helicopter onto its side resulting in substantial damage.

Pilot comments

The pilot reported that during maintenance the previous day, the collective was adjusted to loosen the friction. Before exiting the helicopter, the pilot tightened the cyclic, ensured the collective was down, and the friction nut tightened. The pilot suspects that the friction has loosened, causing the collective to rise and the helicopter to power up.

Safety message

Leaving engines running without a pilot in a control seat presents a significant hazard to the helicopter and persons on the ground. The aircraft manufacturer includes a warning against such practice in the aircraft flight manual, Safety Notice SN-17, Never exit helicopter with engine running.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 02 June 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1215 CST    
Location   (show map): 93 km West of Alice Springs    
State: Northern Territory    
Release Date: 05 November 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Property west of Alice Springs, NT  
Last update 12 December 2018