Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control and collision with terrain involving Robinson R44, VH-HOB, near Clare, South Australia, on 22 December 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


On the morning of 22 December 2020, the pilot of a Robinson R44 was conducting aerial agricultural spray operations on a property 13 km south-east of Clare Valley Aerodrome, South Australia. After completing the first spray run, the pilot was preparing to land the helicopter adjacent a loading vehicle for replenishment of chemical product when a loud bang emanated from the rear of the helicopter. The pilot reported experiencing significant resistance from the flight controls as the helicopter rapidly descended. The helicopter collided heavily with the loading vehicle, coming to rest on its side after the impact. The pilot and reloader were uninjured. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

The evidence collection phase of the investigation will include an examination of the helicopter and maintenance records, and interviews with the pilot and any witnesses to the accident.

The investigation is continuing, with a final report released at the conclusion of the investigation.

General details
Date: 22 December 2020   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 10:30 CSuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Clare (approximately 13 km south-east)   Investigation phase: Evidence collection  
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
  Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 2nd Quarter 2021    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44 II  
Aircraft registration VH-HOB  
Serial number 10801  
Operator County Helicopters  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Last update 06 January 2021