Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
28 Feb 2012
For further information contact:
Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
Accident report - Robinson helicopter Bluff Harbour
Robinson R22 Beta, ZK-HIP
See larger image (jpeg)
A student helicopter pilot and his flight instructor were likely to have been practising ‘loss of power’ techniques when the helicopter crashed into Bluff Harbour, killing them both.
The CAA has today published its investigation report into the Robinson 22 helicopter accident of 14 October 2010. The 67-year-old student pilot and his 29-year-old instructor had been carrying out a training flight in good weather. Witnesses saw the aircraft repeatedly descending to low level over the coast of Bluff Harbour and then climbing away again, but no one saw the accident happen.
It is thought that the student pilot was practising a simulated loss of power exercise called an ‘autorotation’. Autorotations involve reducing the engine power to simulate an engine problem, and pilots practise them often.
A danger of mishandling an autorotation is that the helicopter blades could stall.
CAA Safety Investigator Steve Walker says although the cause of the accident could not be conclusively determined, it serves as a reminder to instructors.
“Students may inadvertently mishandle the aircraft when entering a practice autorotation, and instructors must be alert to any eventuality.”