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On 27 July 2016, at about 0930 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, registered VH-HRL (HRL), completed mustering operations at a property about 33 km south of Blackall, Queensland. The helicopter then departed from the property on a ferry flight and tracked towards the pilot’s home about 110 km to the west-northwest. The pilot was the sole occupant of the helicopter.

At about 1002, the pilot’s GPS tracker indicated that the helicopter had stopped moving, about 41 km from its destination and on the helicopter’s direct track. The helicopter had struck a powerline and subsequently collided with terrain. At about 1030, a local landowner notified the energy provider of a power outage. Two line workers from the energy provider later departed from Blackall to determine the source of the power outage.

At about 1500, while inspecting the powerlines in the area, the line workers located the wreckage of HRL. The windshield and right skid of the helicopter had struck the single wire, which was strung east-west across a cleared area, 4.8 m above the ground. The first point of impact of the helicopter was about 31 m beyond the powerline and it then collided with the ground inverted about 18 m further away. During that impact, it appeared that the pilot’s seatbelt sheared through and the pilot was ejected from the helicopter sustaining serious injuries. The wire had been stretched about 30 m, two power poles broke off and another two were pulled out of the ground. The helicopter was destroyed.

Low-level flight carries an increased risk of striking hazards, such as powerlines, many of which are difficult to see in flight.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 53

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General details
Date: 27 July 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 10:30 EST  
Location   (show map):63 km W of Blackall Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Wirestrike 
Release date: 14 October 2016 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Serious 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Robinson Helicopter Co 
Aircraft model: R22 BETA 
Aircraft registration: VH-HRL 
Serial number: 3490 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Helicopter 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:Unknown
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Last update 18 April 2017