The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the separation of the tail assembly from a Robinson R22 helicopter, registered VH-THM, that occurred at Gold Coast Airport, Queensland on 26 February 2022.
A student pilot with an instructor was conducting a low-level hover exercise, during which it was reported that the helicopter's nose pitched up, a large vibration was felt through the airframe, and the helicopter started to yaw to the right. The instructor immediately took control of the helicopter and landed. It was subsequently noted that the tail rotor assembly and empennage had separated from the rear of the tail boom and were sitting a short distance away. There were no injuries.
To date, the ATSB investigation has interviewed the flight instructor and conducted a detailed examination of the separated components to determine the part fracture sequence. Further metallurgical analysis to determine the fracture mechanism is ongoing.
A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.