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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 162578
Last updated: 16 October 2021
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Time:03:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aérospatiale AS 350B2 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Helicopter Resources Pty.
Registration: VH-HRQ
MSN: 1429
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:275 Km SW of David Plateau Skiway -   Antarctica
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Cape Darnley, Antarctica
Destination airport:Davis Station, Antarctica
The helicopter was on a return flight to Davis Base, Antarctica, with a pilot and two passengers on board. It was one of two helicopters that were tasked to take a scientist and two field training officers to a penguin rookery at Cape Darnley. The helicopters refuelled during the return flight at a fuel cache on the Amery ice shelf, before departing to the south‑east for their next refuelling stop.

As a result of a rapid reduction in visual cues, the pilot of HRQ maintained about 150 ft above ground level. The pilots of both helicopters discussed the reduced surface definition and loss of visible horizon along their flight path and elected to return to the fuel cache until the weather improved. During the turn back to the fuel cache, HRQ descended and impacted the ice shelf. The pilot and two passengers were seriously injured and the helicopter destroyed.

The ATSB found that the pilot did not detect the descent during the turn back to the fuel cache. The ATSB concluded that, after initiating the right turn, the pilot probably became spatially disoriented. Factors contributing to the disorientation included a loss of visual cues as a result of the change in weather conditions, and a breakdown of the pilot’s scan of his flight instruments, resulting in collision with terrain.

Following this accident the operator introduced new helicopters equipped with an autopilot and other equipment to reduce pilot workload. They also introduced simulator training that is administered by an experienced Antarctic pilot, a situation awareness course, and training on the use of the autopilot in the new helicopters and limitations of the radar altimeter. The operator has also amended their operational documentation to prescribe minimum settings for radar altimeters, discuss the use of the autopilot in low visibility environments, and provide decision-making guidance in relation to early avoidance of, and action on encountering inadvertent white-out conditions.



Revision history:

02-Dec-2013 07:47 gerard57 Added
02-Dec-2013 09:27 Anon. Updated [Aircraft type]
10-Dec-2013 16:42 Alpine Flight Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location]
04-May-2014 18:27 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
25-May-2015 07:15 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Departure airport, Narrative]
25-May-2015 07:28 Aerossurance Updated [Nature, Source, Narrative]
01-Dec-2018 10:10 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
01-Dec-2018 10:11 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]

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