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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 90094
Last updated: 4 May 2021
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Time:c. 08:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Pacific Helicopters
Registration: P2-PHL
MSN: 2923
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Bismarck Sea, 36km S of Manus Island -   Papua New Guinea
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Goroka (Port Moresby) Airport (GKA/AYGA)
Destination airport:Madang, Papua New Guinea (AYMD)
On 13 February 2011 local date, a Eurocopter AS 350B2 helicopter, registered P2-PHL, owned and operated by Pacific Helicopters Ltd., departed Goroka at 22:01 UTC on a chartered positioning flight to Lorengau, Manus Province, with an en-route refueling stop at Madang. The pilot did not report any abnormalities with the helicopter during the flight to Madang. He added a further 346 L of fuel at Madang for the flight to Lorengau.

The pilot advised Madang Flight Information Service (FIS) of his departure intentions, and PHL departed Madang at 22:53, with the pilot reporting an estimated arrival time at Lorengau of 0045. He was advised by Madang FIS to provide operations normal reports at 23:09, 23:45, and 00:15, and reported climbing to 7,000 ft. At 00:31 the pilot broadcast a MAYDAY and said that he was ditching into the sea.

Madang FIS immediately declared a DISTRESS phase of Search and Rescue (SAR), and alerted the operator in Goroka, and other aircraft and helicopters operating in the Madang Flight Information Region (FIR) on 8837 kHz, and 120.1 MHz. Pacific Helicopters assisted the search by providing the GPS location of the crash site 02į 35′ 58.19′′ S, 147į 11′ 20.40′′ E. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not located.

The surface of the ocean was reported to be calm (glassy) with the sunís reflection off the glassy surface at the time of the flight. This may have affected the pilotís depth perception, particularly when nearing the surface.

The recorded tracking data showed that the helicopter made a 3,120.5 ft/min decent at a 101.5 kt true airspeed (TAS) to 236 ft, at which point the recorded speed was 71 kt. Witnesses reported seeing the descending helicopterís nose lift, then lower again before it impacted the water. Based on the recorded data and the witnessí evidence, the likelihood of the pilot abruptly arresting the high rate of descent and attempting to flare the helicopter, could not be discounted. However, such an abrupt manoeuvre may have placed the helicopter into a situation where the main-rotor RPM may have decayed to a point beyond which the pilot could not maintain control of the helicopter, due to it being at a height from which recovery may not have been possible.
Searchers found 14 small pieces of wreckage from the fuselage and a number of emergency kit items from inside the cabin. A fractured tail-rotor blade was also floating on the surface at the same location. The engineering report into the tail-rotor blade fracture indicated that the tail rotor was rotating under power at the time of the impact. However, since there was no evidence of the fracture having been sustained by the blade striking any structure or substantively solid material, it is likely that the tail rotor was being driven by the main rotor blades during an auto-rotative descent.

The investigation was unable to determine the reason for the pilot broadcasting a MAYDAY, and the helicopterís subsequent impact with the water. The reason for the accident remains undetermined.
Following the accident, the operator informed the Accident Investigation Commission that it had taken safety action by amending its Line Operations Manual to include compliance with CAR Part 136, and included a requirement for the fitment of a radio altimeter for all overwater flights, and pilots to complete radar altimeter assisted autorotation training.


Revision history:

14-Feb-2011 02:48 gerard57 Added
14-Feb-2011 15:35 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
15-Feb-2011 09:17 gerard57 Updated [Source, Narrative]
16-Feb-2011 02:42 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Location]
08-Aug-2014 19:00 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Aug-2014 19:01 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Narrative]
01-Sep-2014 18:43 Aerossurance Updated [Nature, Source, Narrative]
22-Apr-2016 17:45 harro Updated [Source, Narrative]
30-Sep-2016 17:18 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Narrative]

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