Aviation occurrence briefs

Loss of control involving a Robinson R22, Jandakot, WA, on 1 October 2020

Number:
AB-2020-045
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Brief

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 1 October 2020, an instructor and student pilot in a Robinson R22 helicopter were conducting exercises in the helicopter training area at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia. In the pre-flight brief, the plan for the flight was to conduct some revision circuits and then cover flight control emergency recovery procedures. Having completed the circuit revision portion of the flight, the instructor demonstrated and monitored the student successfully completing the first of the practice emergency procedures.

At about 1145 Western Standard Time, the instructor assessed that the wind had increased to about 20 kt and the conditions were therefore unsuitable to continue the lesson. The instructor informed the student that they would conclude the training at that point. The student lifted the helicopter into the hover in preparation to return to the parking area.

While hovering 3 ft above the ground, there was a momentary uncommanded yaw to the right and the instructor questioned the student as to the cause. The aircraft then commenced a further uncommanded and uncontrolled right yaw and the instructor took over the controls. The yaw continued and the helicopter rapidly went through 2 to 3 rotations. The instructor assessed that the situation was unrecoverable, closed the throttle and raised the collective[1] to cushion the helicopter onto the ground. This resulted in a heavy landing and substantial damage to the airframe, however, no injuries to the student or instructor (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The helicopter in situ after the heavy landing

Figure 1: The helicopter in situ after the heavy landing.
Source: Airport operator

Source: Airport operator

Safety action

As a result of this occurrence, the operator has advised the ATSB that a staff safety meeting was conducted following the heavy landing incident and prior to resumption of flight training activities, with the focus on mitigating future risks during hovering operations. The instructor and student also completed additional training.

Safety message

This incident is a reminder for instructors to be aware of, and respond quickly to, situations that develop during training. These may be due to the student’s limited experience, decision-making, aircraft performance limitations or changing weather conditions, which pose risks to the safe conduct of the flight.

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.

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  1. Collective: a primary helicopter flight control that simultaneously affects the pitch of all blades of a lifting rotor. Collective input is the main control for vertical velocity.
General details
Date: 01 October 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1145 WST    
Location   (show map): Jandakot Airport    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 29 October 2020   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model R22  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Jandakot Airport, Western Australia  
Destination Jandakot Airport, Western Australia  
Last update 29 October 2020