Aviation occurrence briefs

Propeller/rotor wash and prevailing weather events Bankstown Airport, NSW, on 24 August 2021, and Jandakot Airport, WA, on 31 August 2021

Number:
AB-2021-025
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 the 24 August 2021, at about 1853 Eastern Standard Time,[1] 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,[2] 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.

Safety message

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.

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  1. Eastern Standard Time (EST): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 10 hours
  2. Western Standard Time (WST): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 8 hours/a>
General details
  Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 24 August 2021 – 1853 EST and 31 August 2021 – 1335 WST    
Location: Bankstown Airport, New South Wales and Jandakot Airport, Western Australia    
Release Date: 14 October 2021   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft 1 details

Aircraft 1 details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 152  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  

Aircraft 2 details

Aircraft 2 details
Aircraft model AW139  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Bankstown airport, New South Wales  
Destination Bankstown airport, New South Wales  

Aircraft 3 details

Aircraft 3 details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 152  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Jandakot airport, Western Australia  
Destination Jandakot airport, Western Australia  

Aircraft 4 details

Aircraft 4 details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-42  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 14 October 2021