Australia and New Zealand have prohibited Robinson R44 helicopters from further flight if they are fitted with main rotor blades with reference C016-7. This follows the fatal accident of an R44 in New Zealand last week from the fleet of Over The Top Helicopters, which killed one of their instructors and his 18 year old student, the son of the company owner. Both countries have issued Emergency Airworthiness Directives which prohibit further flight
To see the actual documents, effective from Saturday 21st February, follow these links
A media statement issued in New Zealand explains further:-
The Director of Civil Aviation, Graeme Harris has today issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive grounding all Robinson R44 series Helicopters fitted with a (C016-7) ‘Dash 7’ Main Rotor Blade (MRB) until further notice as a safety precaution. The grounding is effective immediately.
This follows the fatal accident this week at Lochy River basin near Queenstown on Thursday 19th February.
Mr Harris said “initial advice from Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety investigators at the scene of Thursday’s accident points to similarities with an earlier R44 incident involving a partial MRB failure that occurred on 23 January this year. In that incident the pilot experienced severe vibration but was able to land the aircraft safely. The blade from that incident is currently enroute to the manufacturer and the US Federal Aviation Administration for analysis. The incident resulted in the issue of a Continuing Airworthiness Notice by the CAA on January 26, 2015. The notice advised that a pre-flight inspection of this area should be conducted to check for damage.
See: http://www.caa.govt.nz/Airworthiness_Directives/Continuing_Airworthiness_Notices/CAN_62-003.pdf for details and photographs of the failed blade. [Ed. we have reproduced one of these below]
Mr Harris stated that “The decision to ground Robinson R44 helicopters with the Dash 7 Main Rotor Blade is a precautionary measure and does not pre-judge the outcome from the investigation into the cause of Thursday’s accident. Given what we know now, it is prudent to make sure these blades are not used while the investigators gather more information.”
While the exact figure is unknown, it is advised that around 80 R44 aircraft will have the relevant rotor blades fitted and will be affected by this directive. A total of 184 Robinson R44 aircraft are recorded on the New Zealand Civil Aviation register.
John Burcote – HeliHub.com