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 30 July 2022, at about 1632 local time, the pilot of a Bell 206L LongRanger was relocating the helicopter from the fuel bowser to the operator’s parking area on the north-east side of a hangar at Newman Airport, Western Australia.
While lining up with marking aids on the taxiway, the pilot directed their attention towards a nearby parked helicopter to the right to ensure adequate clearance from the Bell 206L’s main rotor blade. As the pilot moved the 206L forward into the parking bay, there was a loud bang. The pilot reported there was no loss of control or abnormal movement after the sound and continued to land and shut down the helicopter without further incident.
During the post-flight inspection, it was identified that one main rotor blade had contacted the end of the gantry which supports the sliding doors of the hangar (Figure 1). The helicopter sustained minor damage to the rotor blade tip cap spanning about 10 cm (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Damage to hangar gantry
Source: Operator, annotated by the ATSB
Figure 2: Damage to main rotor blade
The operator has advised that it suspended helicopter operations around the apron area where the incident occurred, pending the outcomes of an internal investigation into the incident.
The operator will also review the risk analysis of the apron parking in the vicinity of the hangar and assess the current helicopter parking configuration.
The FAA helicopter flying handbook(2022) advises that when taxiing near hangars or obstructions, the distance between the rotor blade tips and obstructions is difficult to judge.
To reduce collision risk, operators should consider human limitations in assessing the hazards and ensure crews maintain situational awareness of the aircraft’s established safe distance for separation from all objects during taxi.
Risk assessments on apron parking areas should be reviewed periodically to re-evaluate risks and mitigations.
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.