Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Robinson R22, VH-HUA, 93 km SE of Mount Isa, Qld, on 20 March 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 20 March 2015, at about 1140 Eastern Standard Time, a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH‑HUA, departed from Stanbroke Station for a private flight to Devoncourt Station, Queensland. On board were a pilot and one passenger. The main fuel tank was filled to capacity prior to departure, with 68 L of fuel. While en route between the two stations, the pilot was assessing the water available for stock by overflying water holdings.

At about midday, while about 500 ft above ground level, the helicopter approached a gorge. To assess the water quantity in the gorge, the pilot conducted a descent to about 100 ft and slowed the helicopter to a hover. As the pilot shifted his focus outside, the rotor revolutions per minute (rpm) decreased, the low rotor rpm warning horn sounded and the helicopter commenced descending. The pilot immediately lowered the collective and turned the helicopter away from the higher gorge walls in an attempt to increase forward speed and rotor rpm. He was unable to regain sufficient rotor rpm and the helicopter continued to descend.

The right skid landed heavily on uneven ground, followed by the left skid. The main rotor then collided with a rock and the helicopter rolled onto its right side. The pilot and passengers exited the helicopter and were not injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage.

The temperature at the time was 42°C and the elevation of the area was about 1,000 ft above mean sea level. This incident provides a reminder of the effect on helicopter performance of density altitude, weight, and wind. Pilots are encouraged to carefully and accurately assess these factors to ensure that an adequate performance margin is maintained.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 41


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General details
Date: 20 March 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1100 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 93 km SE of Mount Isa    
State: Queensland   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 Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22 BETA  
Aircraft registration VH-HUA  
Serial number 3973  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Last update 14 November 2018