Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control involving Robinson R22, VH-WGB 221 km ENE of Port Hedland Airport, WA, on 12 May 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 12 May 2016, the pilot of a Robinson R22 Beta II helicopter, registered VH-WGB, was conducting aerial work at a property about 221 km east-north-east of Port Hedland, Western Australia.

At about 1030 Western Standard Time, while manoeuvring the helicopter to observe a mustering operation, the pilot felt the helicopter ‘kick’. The helicopter then yawed rapidly to the right and pitched nose down. The pilot applied left pedal in an attempt to counteract the yaw, however, the helicopter did not respond normally. The helicopter rotated towards the ground. As the helicopter neared the ground, the pilot applied aft cyclic, increased the throttle and raised the collective, which levelled the helicopter attitude and reduced the rate of descent. The helicopter collided with the ground in a level attitude.

The helicopter skids and seat collapsed following ground contact. During the accident sequence, the main rotor blades severed the tail boom. The pilot’s helmet struck the cyclic and the pilot sustained minor injuries. The aircraft sustained substantial damage.

This accident highlights the effectiveness of wearing a helmet to prevent a more serious injury. ATSB report AO-2014-058 provides an account of a serious head injury to an R22 pilot who was not wearing a helmet. In a later ATSB report, AO-2015-134, the operator commented that the pilot of an R22 accident would have suffered more serious head injuries if he was not wearing a helmet.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 50

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General details
Date: 12 May 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 12:00 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Port Hedland Airport, 220 km ENE    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 25 August 2016   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22 BETA  
Aircraft registration VH-WGB  
Serial number 3326  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Wallal Downs Station, WA  
Destination Wallal Downs Station, WA  
Last update 14 November 2018