Aviation safety investigations & reports

Drivetrain belt failure and forced landing involving a Robinson R44 II, registered VH-SXC, about 6 NM west of Hamilton Island, QLD, 3 February 2021

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into a drivetrain belt failure and forced landing involving a Robinson R44, registered VH-SXC, about 6 NM west of Hamilton Island, Queensland, on 3 February 2021.

During cruise, the pilot detected fumes in the cockpit and noticed the clutch actuator light flicker, followed by an issue with the drivetrain belts and conducted a forced landing at a resort. The post-flight inspection revealed a drivetrain belt was missing. 

As part of the investigation, ATSB transport safety investigators will interview involved parties, analyse any available recorded data, and examine maintenance records and other relevant documentation. 

A report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation. However, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.

General details
Date: 03 February 2021   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 12:55 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Hamilton Island Aerodrome, 248° T 9Km   Investigation phase: Evidence collection  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Transmission and gearbox  
  Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 3rd Quarter 2021    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R44 Clipper II  
Aircraft registration VH-SXC  
Serial number 14285  
Operator GSL Aviation  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Proserpine, Queensland  
Destination Whitehaven Beach, Queensland  
Last update 24 February 2021