Aviation occurrence briefs

Partial engine failure involving Bell 206B, near Kulreepa, Qld, on 30 January 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 30 January 2018, a Bell 206B helicopter departed Sunshine Coast Airport, Queensland (Qld), to conduct a navigational training flight. The crew consisted of an instructor and a student.

At approximately 1500 Eastern Standard Time (EST), on the final leg of the flight, the crew heard a noise followed by a high frequency vibration. The instructor elected to conduct a precautionary landing. At approximately 200 – 300 ft above ground level (AGL), the engine chip detector[1] light illuminated on the warning panel. Due to the low altitude, the instructor elected to land with power on and conducted an emergency engine shut down after landing.

As the crew shut down the engine, smoke was identified emanating from the right side of the engine area and the crew subsequently observed a large quantity of oil was identified in this area.

Maintenance engineers identified a number one bearing failure of the engine compressor assembly.

Safety message

Simulated total loss of power and a subsequent practice forced landing is at the core of a pilot’s emergency training. This incident highlights the importance of flight crews maintaining awareness of all system states and being prepared to act at the first sign of trouble. Unusual noises and vibrations during flight have the potential to rapidly propagate unless it is quickly identified and managed, and the aircraft landed at the earliest opportunity.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.



  1. Chip detector: a magnetic device used to gather chips of metal from engine or transmission oil to provide early warning to maintenance personnel of impending engine failure. Depending on the installation, it can be linked to an in-cockpit indicating light to provide immediate advice to aircrew.
General details
Date: 30 January 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1500 EST    
Location   (show map): 6 km WNW of Nambour (Kulreepa)    
State: Queensland    
Release Date: 17 May 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206B  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Last update 14 November 2018