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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 736
Last updated: 20 November 2017
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Time:1400 EST
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:Lovick & Son Developments P/L
Registration: VH-HBS
C/n / msn: 0033
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:10 km W of Gunpowder Mine, Mount Gordon, QLD -   Australia
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Mount Isa, Queensland (ISA/YBMA)
Destination airport:Mount Kelly, Queensland
On 21 February 2006, a Robinson Helicopter Company R44 Astro helicopter, registered VH-HBS, was being operated on a series of aerial survey flights approximately 100 km to the north of Mt Isa Airport, Queensland. The helicopter was operating from the Gunpowder Mine airstrip and had completed three flights by 12:54 Eastern Standard Time. The pilot refuelled the helicopter and at 13:41 departed for a survey flight with three passengers on board. When the helicopter did not arrive at a pre-arranged rendezvous point, a search was initiated. Searchers found the burnt wreckage of the helicopter the next day. The four occupants were fatally injured.

The helicopter had impacted the ground with significant force in a nose-down, fuselage-level attitude. The main rotor displayed evidence of low rotational energy and coning. Other than impact and fire damage, there were no identified mechanical defects or abnormalities. There was evidence that the engine was rotating at impact, but the amount of engine power being developed was not able to be established.

The previous aerial survey flights were reported to have included low speed flight and occasional hovering. At the estimated helicopter weight and the prevailing air density, the helicopter did not have the performance to hover at the survey altitude, which was estimated to be about 1,000 ft above ground level. The investigation considered that the helicopter probably descended contrary to the pilots intentions, possibly influenced by a partial engine power loss or downdraft, and induced the pilot to apply collective, which developed into over-pitching and ultimately main rotor stall.

The ATSB investigation found that the helicopter was being operated at gross weights that exceeded the specified maximum take-off weight. The investigation also found that the operators procedures did not provide a high level of assurance that a relatively low time pilot could conduct aerial survey operations safely.

According to the Coroners Inquest into the accident, the four persons on board were:
Thomas William LANCASTER
Derek Victor POWELL
Vita Mara STOTT

All died when the helicopter Ms Stott was piloting as part of an investigation by a mining survey team crashed. The precise cause of the crash has not been ascertained. There is no evidence of any mechanical failure. Ms Stott’s lack of experience in this type of flying and the overloading of the aircraft may have contributed. All four persons on board died from the fire which broke out on impact.

Sources: [Coroners Report into the 4 crash victims]

Revision history:

21-Jan-2008 10:00 ASN archive Added
26-Jan-2008 22:43 Andrew Whitton Updated
27-Jan-2012 19:59 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
04-May-2014 00:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
04-May-2014 00:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
06-Jun-2014 16:29 TB Updated [Operator, Location, Source]

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