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The person piloting the helicopter had a PPL H , but no type rating for the helicopter type. He had had performed his skill test on ASB3 the day before the accident. It was his first attempt to land an ASB3 on the helideck. Landing on a helideck was not a part of any formal flight training programme.
Thus, this was not a flight that formally required an instructor. The commander grabbed the controls and attempted to manoeuvre the helicopter aft and to the left to avoid the tarpaulin, which was on its way to blow into the main rotor due to the rotor downdraft. He did not have time to make a difference before the tarpaulin caused considerable damage to the main rotor when it encountered the rotor blades and was ripped to shreds.
The commander lost control of the helicopter after the tarpaulin struck the main rotor. During this phase, both the commander and the pilot in the right hand seat had their hands on the controls.
The helicopter ended up in the sea somewhat aft and port left hand side of the yacht with tail first and quickly tilted over to the right, before it came to rest upside-down. Having exited the helicopter, he realised that the helicopter would sink and dived into the cockpit where he was able to activate the switch to inflate the floats [there was no Automatic Float Deployment System AFDS fitted].
It was this person that piloted the helicopter when the tarpaulin hit the main rotor. All three made their way up on the belly of the floating helicopter.
One person is reported to have serious injuries and two had minor injuries. The Appareo video recording shows that the tarpaulin was inflated by the pulsating rotor blade downwash pressure from the hovering helicopter. The aft seat was equipped with three-point seat belts, but the passenger was not using one.
He was busy filming the approach on his mobile phone. Just before the helicopter hit the water, he was thrown sideways, then forward and over the pedestal and the right hand collective stick. The investigators note that: There were multiple items of unsecured luggage in the cabin. In addition, there were multiple electronic devices with unsecured charging cables connected to power outlets.
The AIBN comment that: AIBN is of the opinion that a proper risk assessment would most likely have resulted in the commander performing the landing himself.
This would probably have shortened the time in hover and reduced the risk of the tarpaulin blowing off the fuel bowser. AIBN believes that the commander made extraordinary efforts to save lives once the accident had occurred. The helideck had a marked circular area which the helicopter should land within. As the yacht was not in commercial operation this landing area did not need to be certified. The yacht was not originally equipped with a fuel bowser for refuelling of helicopters.
During the planned trip along the Norwegian coast, the intention was to use the helicopter for sightseeing from the yacht. For this purpose, a fuel bowser with a capacity of approximately litres was placed on the helideck.
It was decided to make a tarpaulin prepared to cover the fuel bowser. Eyelets were affixed to make it possible to lash the tarpaulin to the fuel bowser. On the day of the accident… …the yacht was not allowed by the port authorities to receive the helicopter at quay, and therefore positioned itself in the harbour without anchoring.
Wind speed was knots and the sea was calm. He accepted to rush the preparation. As a result, several issues in the Helicopter Operations Manual were omitted.
The fire fighting equipment was not prepared for use on the helideck, and a safety tender was not set out. The custom made tarpaulin covering the jet fuel bowser was not lashed down using the affixed eyelets.
The cruise was to be in coastal waters. The first mate was new on board the yacht, and this was his first helideck operation.
The first mate was standing inside glass doors forward of the helideck to monitor the landing. Both the master and the first mate communicated with the helicopter. The first mate notified the master that everything was ready, and the master cleared the helicopter for landing The AIBN finds it positive that a Helicopter Operations Manual existed.
At the same time, it appears as if the manual was not in use. The lack of adherence to multiple requirements and procedures indicates that the manual was a passive document. The AIBN have not made any safety recommendations. For practical aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries aerossurance.
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