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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 754
Last updated: 27 October 2020
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Time:10:32 AWST
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44 Astro
Owner/operator:Heliwork (Western Australia) Pty Ltd
Registration: VH-YKL
C/n / msn: 0170
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:43 km North-West of Kununurra, Western Australia -   Australia
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Cape Dommett, Western Australia
Destination airport:Kununurra, Western Australia
Investigating agency: ATSB
On 8 Nov 2003, a Robinson Helicopter Company R44, registered VH-YKL, and a Bell Helicopter Company B206, registered VH-FHY, were conducting fishing charter flights from Kununurra to the Cape Dommett area of northern WA. The flights were conducted under the visual flight rules (VFR) and were both single-pilot operations. The R44 had four persons on board (POB) and the B206 had five POB.

After the passengers had spent the morning fishing, it was decided between them that several would change seating arrangements between the helicopters for the return journey. At about 10:15 AWST (Australian Western Standard Time), after the passengers assumed their new seating arrangements, the helicopters took off and flew in company at 500 feet above ground level (AGL), for the return flight to Kununurra.

Approximately 17 minutes later, the pilot of the lead helicopter, the B206, received a radio broadcast from the pilot of the R44 stating that “I am going in hard”. The pilot of the B206 immediately banked his helicopter around in a tight right turn and, after assuming a reciprocal heading, observed a mushroom cloud of smoke rising from a nearby ridge.

The pilot of the B206 broadcast a MAYDAY1 to air traffic services (ATS) and began to orbit the accident site. The pilot of the B206 was asked by ATS to look for people moving around the wreckage; none could be seen. With no signs of life visible, and unable to identify a safe place to land, the pilot of the B206 made an operational decision to continue to Kununurra. The first rescue team to arrive at the site confirmed that all four occupants had received fatal injuries.

The onsite investigation accounted for all major components of the helicopter at the crash site. The centre of gravity was found to be outside the forward limit, and the operating weight at the time of the occurrence was found to exceed the maximum allowable operating weight for that helicopter type.

The short radio transmission by the pilot of the R44 did not allude to a specific problem. In the absence of witness reports of the occurrence, and the lack of physical evidence due to post-impact fire, the reason(s) for the descent from cruise altitude, and the subsequent impact with terrain could not be established. The helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire.


3. NTSB Identification: LAX04WA040 at

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: ATSB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

21-Jan-2008 10:00 ASN archive Added
12-Jan-2012 19:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
19-Oct-2018 00:24 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2018 00:26 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator]

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