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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 238868
Last updated: 5 April 2021
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Date:31-JUL-2020
Time:10:57 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44 Raven I
Owner/operator:Riverina Helicopters
Registration: VH-HNF
C/n / msn: 2524
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:Steam Plains, 69 km SE of Hay, NSW -   Australia
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Agricultural
Departure airport:Steam Plains, NSW
Destination airport:Steam Plains, NSW
Investigating agency: ATSB
Narrative:
On 31 July 2020, the pilot of a Robinson R44 Raven I helicopter, registered VH-HNF and operated by Riverina Helicopters, was preparing to conduct aerial weed spraying at Steam Plains, 69 km south-east of Hay Airport, New South Wales.
Prior to commencing the dayís flying, the pilot briefed with the helicopter owner/operator, who was performing the role of ground crew and responsible for loading the helicopter with chemical. The briefing included a review of the dayís tasking, maps of the property and hazards associated with the operation. The identified hazards included a 19.1 kV single wire earth return powerline, which crossed the property fence line about 5 m above the ground. The powerline had been marked on the pilotís map during initial planning with the property manager 2 days prior.
The ground crew then loaded the helicopter with chemical from a centrally-located vehicle. According to recorded GPS data from the helicopter, after loading, the pilot flew the helicopter to the property boundary to spray along the fence line, 2.5-5 m above the ground, before returning to the loader. The pilot sprayed four loads over an 80-minute period and departed with the fifth load at about 1050 Eastern Standard Time.
The GPS data showed that the pilot flew the helicopter to the property boundary and began spraying the fifth load. About 350 m before reaching the position where the previously-identified powerline crossed the fence line, the pilot manoeuvred the helicopter to climb over an area of trees 12-15 m high, before descending to continue spraying. During the descent, the helicopter struck the powerline. The electricity provider reported that the fault to the powerline occurred at 10:57. This was consistent with the time of the last recorded GPS position, about 300 m prior to the powerline.
The helicopter subsequently collided with terrain about 120 m beyond the powerline, resulting in fatal injuries to the pilot. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

Sources:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-31/nsw-emergency-services-respond-to-riverina-helicopter-crash/12511952
https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2020/07/31/helicopter-crash-conargo/
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/nsw/helicopter-crashes-in-nsw-riverina-region-20200731-p55hc2.html
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-03/pilot-dan-slennett-dies-in-hospital-after-riverina-chopper-crash/12517890
ATSB
https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2020/aair/ao-2020-040/


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
31-Jul-2020 06:18 gerard57 Added
31-Jul-2020 07:07 RobertMB Updated [Time, Nature, Source, Narrative]
31-Jul-2020 17:27 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Source]
03-Aug-2020 04:21 gerard57 Updated [Total fatalities, Source, Narrative]
03-Aug-2020 12:12 HeliHub Updated [Registration, Cn, Source]
02-Mar-2021 18:47 rudy Updated [[Registration, Cn, Source]]
05-Apr-2021 14:03 harro Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Damage, Narrative]

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