Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - Robinson R22 helicopter, VH-YOL, 14 km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing, WA, 27 July 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On the evening of 27 July 2011, the owner-pilot of a Robinson Helicopter Co. R22 helicopter, registered VH-YOL, was conducting a local flight from Big Rock Dam to Brooking Springs homestead near Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia. The pilot was reported missing and the wreckage of the helicopter was located the following day, 14 km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing township. The helicopter was seriously damaged and the pilot sustained fatal injuries.

The pilot was attempting to fly visually at low level on a dark night in an area that did not contain any local ground lighting. About halfway into the flight, the pilot inadvertently allowed the helicopter to develop a high rate of descent, resulting in a collision with terrain.

The investigation found that the pilot was operating at night without the appropriate training or qualification in a helicopter that was not suitably equipped. An examination of the helicopter found no evidence of any pre-existent defects or anomalies.

No organisational or systemic issues were identified that might adversely affect the future safety of aviation operations. However, the accident highlighted the significant risk to non‑night-qualified pilots of spatial disorientation and subsequent collision with terrain when attempting visual operations at night.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 970KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 771KB]
General details
Date: 27 July 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1826 WST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 14 km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 12 April 2012   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Aircraft registration VH-YOL  
Serial number 4463  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Bigrock Dam, WA  
Destination Brooking Springs, WA  
Last update 03 April 2020