Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving Robinson R44, VH-YMJ, near Riversleigh ALA, Qld, on 12 November 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 12 November 2016, a Robinson R44 helicopter, registered VH-YMJ, departed from a landing site on the Riversleigh Station property for the return leg of a private sight-seeing flight to Adels Grove aircraft landing area, Queensland. On board the helicopter were the pilot and three passengers.

At about 1420 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot attempted the last planned departure of the day from the landing site for the return flight. The pilot reported that there were no power performance issues in the hover, but then during the initial climb, at about 100–130 ft above ground level and between 15–20 kt airspeed, the helicopter started to experience a loss of performance. The helicopter started to descend and the pilot advised there was insufficient engine power to prevent the descent.

The right skid of the helicopter landed first, on the side of a dirt road, and the left skid landed off the side of the road below the right skid, which resulted in the helicopter rolling onto the left side before coming to rest. One passenger received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

This incident highlights the effect of high all-up-weight, high air temperature and gusting wind conditions on the R44 helicopter’s performance. In particular, the combination of high all-up-weight and high air temperature increase the power required and decrease the power available, which can lead to a situation in which there is insufficient power available to prevent a descent. 


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 57

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General details
Date: 12 November 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 14:45 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Riversleigh (ALA)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 09 February 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44  
Aircraft registration VH-YMJ  
Serial number 2143  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Riversleigh Station, Qld  
Destination Adels Grove, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018