22-Mar-2013 Source: HeliHub.com
The Australian investigation authority ATSB has issued their final report on the fatal R22 accident on 3rd October last year which occurred 130 km west of Halls Creek in Western Australia. The summary is a blunt reminder of issues with confined areas, light levels etc
On 3 October 2012 the pilots of two Robinson R22 helicopters, each with a passenger on board, landed in the vicinity of a narrow gorge about 130 km west of Halls Creek, Western Australia. With the others on the ground, one of the pilots lifted off in VH-LLF to have a look at the gorge from the air. The pilot descended into the gorge and then during the ascent the helicopter tail contacted a rock overhang about 30 m above the gorge pool and separated, resulting in loss of control, collision with the surrounding rocks, and submersion. The pilot did not survive. The pilot of the remaining R22 ferried the two passengers, in turn, out of the gorge area.
What the ATSB found
The ATSB found that the pilot of VH-LLF descended into a confined gorge through a relatively narrow opening without prior knowledge of the gorge characteristics. That created a situation where the pilot was required to climb the helicopter out of the gorge with marginal clearance and potential disorientation in fading light. Subsequently, although the pilot of the remaining R22 was able to ferry the passengers out of the gorge area post-accident, it was carried out with higher risk than was absolutely necessary.
As this occurrence demonstrates, helicopter pilots need to be mindful that some confined areas will allow access, but will present significant risks on the climb out.
The accident report noted that the pilot had 1,034 hours total including 775 hours on type.
The full report can be reviewed here. A key image from the report is reproduced below
The accident was listed in the HeliHub.com safety pages at 03-Oct-12 VH-LLF Robinson R22 Halls Creek, Australia (1F)
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com