Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving Bell 412, VH-EMZ, 12 km WSW Horn Island Airport, Qld, 13 June 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 13 June 2013, at about 1924 Eastern Standard Time, a Bell 412 helicopter, registered VH‑EMZ (EMZ), departed Horn Island, Queensland on a training flight to Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait. On board the helicopter was the pilot flying (PF) who was under instruction, a training pilot, and a crewman. The PF conducted a practice approach using the ‘Nightsun’ to illuminate the ground below the helicopter.

At 400 ft AGL, and about 0.6 NM from the targeted landing area, the training pilot noted that the indicated airspeed (IAS) was 60 kt with a 500 ft/min rate of descent and the GPS showed a ground speed of 45 kt. The PF looked outside to confirm that the profile and sight picture were correct for a visual approach and adjusted the Nightsun beam onto the landing site. The training pilot also looked out of the cockpit and when he looked back inside the cockpit he observed a high rate of descent of about 800 ft/min and he called ‘rate of descent’. The training pilot also observed that the IAS was below 35 kt and called ‘go around’. The training pilot reported that there was no immediate response so he repeated the call to ‘go around’.

The PF reported commencing a go-around and responded ‘going around’. The training pilot reported that he felt the collective move. The helicopter entered an incipient vortex ring state and impacted the ground heavily. The crew were uninjured and the helicopter was substantially damaged.


 Aviation Short investigation Bulletin Issue 22


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General details
Date: 13 June 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1938 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 12 km WSW Horn Island Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 17 September 2013   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 412  
Aircraft registration VH-EMZ  
Serial number 33001  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Horn Island, Qld  
Destination Prince of Wales Island, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018