Old 27th Nov 2012, 23:09
  #69 (permalink)  
Brian Abraham
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sale, Australia
Age: 75
Posts: 3,829
That's the quandary of NVFR in Australia.

Evidently it's called the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Who knew?
Every thing old is new again RVDT.


A Bell 407 which crashed in Queensland near Mackay in October 2003, killing 3.



On the evening of 17 October 2003, an air ambulance Bell 407 helicopter, registered VH-HTD (HTD), being operated under the ‘Aerial Work’ category, was tasked with a patient transfer from Hamilton Island to Mackay, Queensland. The crew consisted of a pilot, a paramedic and a crewman. Approximately 35 minutes after the departure of the helicopter from Mackay, the personnel waiting for the helicopter on the island contacted the Ambulance Coordination Centre (ACC) to ask about its status. ACC personnel then made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the helicopter before notifying Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR), who initiated a search for the helicopter. AusSAR dispatched a BK117 helicopter from Hamilton Island to investigate. The crew of the BK117 located floating wreckage, that was later confirmed to be from HTD, at a location approximately 3.2 nautical miles (NM) east of Cape Hillsborough, Queensland. There were no survivors.

Following 12 days of side scan array sonar searches, underwater diving and trawling, the main impact point and location of heavy items of wreckage were located. The wreckage was recovered and examined at a secure on-shore location.

Although the forecast weather conditions did not necessarily preclude flight under the night Visual Flight Rules (VFR), the circumstances of the accident were consistent with pilot disorientation and loss of control during flight in dark night conditions. The effect of cloud on any available celestial lighting, lack of a visible horizon and surface/ground-based lighting, and the pilot’s limited instrument flying experience, may have contributed to this accident. Although not able to determine with certainty what factors led to the helicopter departing controlled flight, the investigation determined that mechanical failure was unlikely.

The circumstances of the accident combined most of the risk factors known for many years to be associated with helicopter Emergency Medical Services (EMS) accidents, such as:

Pilot factors

the pilot was inexperienced with regards to long distance over water night operations out of sight of land and in the helicopter type

the pilot did not hold an instrument rating and had limited instrument flying experience

the pilot was new to the organisation and EMS operations.

Operating environment factors

the accident occurred on a dark night with no celestial or surface/ground-based lighting

the flight path was over water with no fixed surface lit features

forecast weather in the area of the helicopter flight path included the possibility of cloud at the altitude flown

Organisational factors

a number of different organisations were involved in providing the service

the operation was from a base remote from the operator’s main base

actual or perceived pressures may have existed to not reject missions due to weather or other reasons

an apparent lack of awareness of helicopter EMS safety issues and helicopter night VFR limitations

divided and diminished oversight for ensuring safety

no single organisation with expertise in aviation having overall oversight for operational safety

As a result of the investigation, safety recommendations were issued to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority recommending: a review of the night VFR requirements, an assessment of the benefits of additional flight equipment for helicopters operating under night VFR and a review of the operator classification and/or minimum safety standards for helicopter EMS operations.

Following the accident, the Queensland Department of Emergency Services took initiatives to implement:

increased safety standards in the Generic Service Agreements to Community Helicopter Providers (CHP) to include increased pilot recency and training requirements, a pilot requirement for a Command Instrument Rating, crew resource management training, a Safety Management System and a Safety Officer

the recommendations of the reviews associated with the aeromedical system/network

the establishment of a centralised clinical coordination and tasking of aeromedical aircraft and helicopters for Southern Queensland1, including all CHP state-wide through a centre in Brisbane, with a parallel system planned for all Northern Queensland by July 2005

the establishment of a requirement for a safe arrival broadcast for flights of less than 30 minutes duration and the nomination of a SARTIME for all flights

the revision of the standard operating procedures for helicopter emergencies to attempt to establish communication with an aircraft when lost for a maximum 5 minute period, then immediately contacting AusSAR

the establishment of a requirement for CHP to provide updated contact/aircraft details on a bi-annual basis and amend the standard operating procedures containing this information accordingly

a requirement for CHP operations to ensure sufficient celestial lighting exists for night VFR flights to maintain reference to the horizon
no single organisation with expertise in aviation having overall oversight for operational safety
I wonder if that comment from the ATSB is directed at CASA.

The official report has been pulled from the ATSB web site.

Last edited by Brian Abraham; 27th Nov 2012 at 23:10.
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