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.
On the 24 August 2021, at about 1853 Eastern Standard Time, the flight crew and an associated ground crew of a Finmeccanica Helicopter Division AW139 were conducting night vision winch training at the main helipad of Bankstown Airport, New South Wales. The recorded wind was gusting to 25 kt. The pilot of the AW139 was conducting a hover at approximately 15 ft above the helipad when a ground crew member alerted the flight crew of a loose gable marker about 20 m from the hovering helicopter.
The pilot landed the helicopter and requested the ground crew to investigate the gable marker. The ground crew identified a Cessna Aircraft Company 152 upside down approximately 55 m from the helipad. The Cessna 152’s right main wing tie down rope had snapped and the left tie down rope had pulled through the wing tie down point. The pilot of the helicopter ceased the training activity and taxied back to the apron.
In a separate incident on 31 August 2021 at about 1325 Western Standard Time, the pilot of a Cessna Aircraft Company 152 taxied to the runway 24 runup bay for pre-flight engine runs at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia. The pilot parked in the runup bay approximately 15 m behind a Piper Aircraft Corp PA-42 that had its engines shut down. The PA-42 was parked in a south‑west direction with its nose into wind. The pilot of the Cessna 152 noticed two engineers working on one of the PA-42 engines. During the subsequent Cessna 152 engine checks, the pilot felt a gust of wind and noticed that the PA-42 had started both engines. This resulted in the Cessna 152 being flipped over onto its roof by the propeller wash from the PA‑42. There were no injuries to the pilot of the Cessna 152 but the aircraft sustained significant damage.
Although it could not be determined that the rotor wash was a factor in the incident at Bankstown Airport, these two incidents highlight the significant effect propeller, rotor wash, and prevailing wind conditions can have on light aircraft. Flight and ground crews are reminded to remain aware of their surroundings at all times during operation or testing of an aircraft, particularly when other aircraft or personnel are nearby. This can include the re-evaluation of aircraft positioning during engine testing to prevent propeller wash from affecting nearby aircraft.
Crews are also reminded of the importance of a regular inspection of tie down ropes and chains, and to use sufficient tie down techniques when securing aircraft at the end of flight activities.
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.