Aviation safety investigations & reports

Hughes 369 E, VH-JBE, Charlottes Pass (6 km NE Mt Kosciusko) NSW, 21 June 1986

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The helicopter was being operated in clear conditions, with a five knot South - Westerly breeze, and an outside air temperature of minus six degrees Celsius. After landing on a snow covered ridge, the passengers advised that they would require only a short period of time to complete their work. While waiting, the pilot maintained sufficient power to prevent the helicopter sinking deeper into the snow than approximately 45 centimetres. On DEPARTURE, the helicopter lifted normally clear of the snow into the hover, then turned approximately 45 degrees to the left, to follow the ridge line instead of flying direct across the valley to the next destination. During take-off, slight sink was encountered. This was controlled by an increase in collective pitch, but almost immediately further sink occurred. The pilot again increased collective pitch and forward cyclic control expecting to accelerate through the sink. The skids contacted the snow surface, with the right hand skid digging in deeper, causing the helicopter to roll to the right. In response, left cyclic control and full collective were applied , but the helicopter continued rolling to the right, allowing the main rotor blades to contact the snow, which caused the helicopter to overturn. The prevailing conditions would appear to preclude the possibility of power failure caused by snow ingested through the engine air intake. A full mechanical inspection was made of the helicopter and its engine, but no fault was detected. It is possible the aircraft was over-rotated, allowing the skid toes to contact the snow. The cause of this accident was not determined.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 21 June 1986   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1110 approx.    
Location: Charlottes Pass (6 km NE Mt Kosciusko)    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 22 June 1987   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Hughes Helicopters  
Aircraft model 369  
Aircraft registration VH-JBE  
Serial number 0148E  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Charlottes Pass NSW  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Cooma NSW