Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Schweizer 269C-1, VH-FTY, Parafield Airport, SA on 24 December 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On the morning of 24 December 2014, an instructor and student were conducting circuits and emergency training in a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, registered VH-FTY, on a grass area south of runway 08/26 at Parafield Airport, South Australia. After a number of exercises, including simulated engine failures, the instructor assumed control of the helicopter to demonstrate how to respond to a tail rotor failure while hovering. The instructor was concerned that the student did not fully understand the theory behind the recovery technique, so he planned to slow the exercise down and demonstrate the component parts of the sequence. This approach varied to some degree from the manner in which the sequence was normally taught, whereby the sequence was integrated and relatively rapid.

While hovering into the wind, the instructor commenced the demonstration by initiating a yawing motion to simulate a tail rotor failure. The instructor allowed the yaw to continue through about 360 degrees before slowly closing the throttle, intending to allow the helicopter to settle onto the ground. Contrary to the instructor’s intent, as the throttle was closed, the helicopter began yawing rapidly in the opposite direction and unexpectedly began drifting. The instructor was unable regain full control of the helicopter before it touched down on the left skid and rolled onto its left side. The instructor and student evacuated the helicopter and apart from some minor bruising, were both uninjured. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

The incident serves to highlight the importance of standardised instructional sequences, and the provision of comprehensive guidance with respect to the associated demonstrations and the potential safety risks involved. Where there is any doubt about the best way to demonstrate a particular sequence, instructors are encouraged to seek guidance from the Chief Flying Instructor. While the training effectiveness of a demonstration is undoubtedly important, of even greater importance is the need to ensure that any associated hazards are identified and effectively managed.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 41

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General details
Date: 24 December 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0858 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Parafield Airport    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 10 June 2015   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Schweizer Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model 269C-1  
Aircraft registration VH-FTY  
Serial number 0368  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Parafield, SA  
Destination Parafield, SA  
Last update 14 November 2018