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Helicopter pilot's death preventable

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/04/2017

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has pointed the finger at the susceptibility of Robinson helicopters in high winds, after issuing a report on the death of a pilot near Nelson in 2014.

On October 7, 2014, a Robinson R44 being flown from Karamea to Nelson broke up in flight and crashed into steep bush near Mt Arthur in the Kahurangi National Park.

The pilot, the only occupant, was killed.

One of the main rotor blades struck the cabin and the main rotor assembly separated from the rest of the helicopter as the pilot flew through high winds and turbulence.

The investigation found that had a limitation on maximum wind speeds been in place, the pilot would have been prohibited from flying, due to the forecast turbulence on October 7.

It was also noted the Robinson helicopters, due to their rotor design, can roll rapidly to the right during a phenomenon known as mast-bumping which occurs during turbulence.

The TAIC recommended that limitations that apply to the Robinson R22 helicopter be extended to all Robinson models, and to all pilots, regardless of their experience level.

It also recommended all pilots of two-bladed helicopters should consider landing and waiting for conditions to improve.

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