Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wirestrike involving a Robinson R44, VH-HGF, 18 km E of Ballarat, Vic., 23 February 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 23 February 2013, a Robinson R44 Raven I helicopter, registered VH-HGF, was engaged in agricultural operations in a paddock near Clarks Hill, Victoria. The pilot was the only person on board.

As the helicopter approached the paddock from the south, at 50 kt and at spray height, the pilot remembered a wire that extended halfway across the southern boundary of the paddock to a pump house. The pilot judged that it was too late to attempt to pull up over the wire and attempted to avoid the wire by flying underneath it. The vertical stabiliser contacted the wire and the tail rotor gearbox separated from the tail boom. The pilot was able to exit the helicopter with minor injuries however the helicopter was substantially damaged.

The practice within the aerial agricultural industry is to extensively pre-plan an application task that takes into account the specific hazards affecting an application. Any change from the previously planned application runs, including an unplanned change of direction has the potential to affect a pilot’s awareness of the relative position of previously known power lines and other hazards.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue 19


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General details
Date: 23 February 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0915 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 18 km E of Ballarat    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Wirestrike  
Release date: 29 May 2013   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44  
Aircraft registration VH-HGF  
Serial number 908  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Ballarat, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018