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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 214468
Last updated: 23 September 2021
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Time:c. 14:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic BK17 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Kawasaki BK 117B-2
Owner/operator:Sydney Helicopters
Registration: VH-JWB
MSN: 1094
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:9 km W of Ulladulla, NSW -   Australia
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Fire fighting
Departure airport:Milton Showgrounds, Ulladulla
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: ATSB
On the afternoon of 17 August 2018, the pilot of a Kawasaki Heavy Industries BK117 helicopter, registered VH-JWB, was conducting fire-bombing operations approximately 9 km west of Ulladulla, New South Wales (NSW).
The pilot was on the third flight for the day and was conducting repeated water bombing of a fire on Plot Road, Woodburn, NSW. On the fifth fire-bombing circuit, at this location, the pilot filled the slung Bambi Bucket (bucket) without incident from a nearby dam and departed towards the fire area. Shortly after, the aircraft diverted off course, the bucket and longline became caught in trees and the helicopter collided with terrain. The pilot was fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed.

The ATSB found that it was likely the pilot suffered an incapacitating medical event. As a result, the pilot unintentionally diverted off track, leading to the bucket becoming tangled in the trees and causing the helicopter to collide with terrain.
The pilotís post-mortem identified a focus of acute inflammatory change in the heart muscle, a condition known as lymphocytic myocarditis. This condition is capable of causing sudden impairment or complete incapacitation. The pilot is unlikely to have known they suffered from this condition. There are no risk factors for the development of this condition and it cannot be detected by medical screening.
The pilotís post-mortem also identified coronary heart disease which is also capable of causing sudden impairment and incapacitation. This condition was being effectively managed by medication.
Despite the pilot suffering from these two heart-related conditions, there was insufficient evidence to determine if they contributed to the accident.
The ATSB also determined that the pilot was known to use an over the counter medication for the treatment of hay fever that, although labelled as non‑sedating, was not approved for use while conducting flying operations.
Finally, the pilot did not wear the upper torso restraint correctly. Although on this occasion the accident was unsurvivable, the use of such a shoulder harness restraint generally reduces the likelihood of fatal head injuries.


Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: ATSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 9 months
Download report: Final report



Photo: ATSB

Revision history:

17-Aug-2018 05:18 gerard57 Added
17-Aug-2018 06:02 Iceman 29 Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Source, Embed code]
17-Aug-2018 06:10 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
17-Aug-2018 06:52 Mumbai-Merlin Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Operator, Source, Embed code]
17-Aug-2018 06:57 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Source]
17-Aug-2018 07:16 A.J. Scholten Updated [Source]
17-Aug-2018 08:34 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
17-Aug-2018 08:35 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]
17-Aug-2018 08:37 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]
17-Aug-2018 23:20 Geno Updated [Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
18-Aug-2018 09:43 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
14-Oct-2018 20:27 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Source, Embed code]
21-May-2021 08:53 harro Updated [Location, Embed code, Category, Photo]

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