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Two helicopters collide - Gold Coast, Queensland - Sea World 2/1/2023

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Two helicopters collide - Gold Coast, Queensland - Sea World 2/1/2023

Old 2nd Jan 2023, 23:21
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Two British Nationals, chief pilot among victims.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...pter-collision
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Old 2nd Jan 2023, 23:34
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Originally Posted by Doors Off View Post
The ATSB thanks you for your thorough and complete accident investigation.

You may be correct or, perhaps you don't have all the facts and there are other factors that were key in facilitating such a horrible accident.
The full investigation will undoubtedly reveal many factors, some contributory and some not. I am now at the point of almost losing count of the untimely deaths of my friends and fellow pilots and the most depressing fact is most of their accidents were mostly predictable and avoidable*. There are only a few variations on the way we meet unfortunate ends for ourselves and others while flying aircraft, and even when the most detailed and probing accident investigation reveals a long list list of contributory factors, accidents usually need some fundamental error, omission or breach to trigger the chain reaction that has lined up behind it. Speculating on the primary cause of the accident may seem ghoulish to some, but it can provide useful safety prompts for others who do this for a living. Accidents have no respect for experience, total hours or friendships. When the full report is published, many on here will have rely on long term memory to recall any of these details.

* The obvious exception being a Tie-Bar Failure leading to MR blade separation at 2,000'.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 00:41
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I'm on that part of the water frequently and see the process from sea level. It seems orderly and safe on any given day. Tragically what may have happened is a deadly cocktail of commercial pressure, complacency and long days of flying. Keep in mind this would have been one of the busiest days ever for this operation coming out of Covid and with a 100 % fleet increase. The challenge was to get through as many flights in a day. The descending helicopter would have had the departing one on the left and below it, thus obscured. The departing one likely would have been able to see the other one on his right and above, but with no 'relative motion' likely would not have been picked up in his peripheral vision. These guys do this dozens of times an hour so radio calls are likely to be perfunctory as all pilots expect they know what the others are doing. Throw in complacency from doing the job repetitively day in day out and it's a very tragic outcome.

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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 00:48
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The landing on the Sandbar was due to significant damage to the chopper, nearest place to safely putdown.

Originally Posted by Evil Twin View Post
What was the purpose of the landing on the sandbar, does anyone know? Is it staging waiting for a pad to clear for landing or similar, or just a part of the experience.

My deepest condolences to all involved, a very tragic start to the new year.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 00:51
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Originally Posted by Maisk Rotum View Post
The descending helicopter would have had the departing one on the left and below it, thus obscured. The departing one likely would have been able to see the other one on his right and above, but with no 'relative motion' likely would not have been picked up in his peripheral vision.
Post#33 suggests these helicopters were set up to fly from the left side so the incoming helicopter would have had a clear view of the helipad.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 00:54
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Originally Posted by spriteah View Post
The landing on the Sandbar was due to significant damage to the chopper, nearest place to safely putdown.
Also near the downed helicopter to render assistance?
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 01:09
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Also near the downed helicopter to render assistance?
. Ummm NO, if you look at the damage to the front of the EC130 there is only one place he was going and that was down, he sure as heck wasnt going to fly back over to the helipads and it wasnt anything to do with rendering assistance. He landed of the only available piece of ground under him when the whole front of his helo dissapeared.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 01:13
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Originally Posted by Cloudee View Post
Post#33 suggests these helicopters were set up to fly from the left side so the incoming helicopter would have had a clear view of the helipad.
If you look at YouTube footage of similar flights you will see the pilots in the right seat. Notwithstanding that fact, if both in the left seat, the taking off pilot would not have seen the landing one. The landing one possibly distracted, throw in complacency, commercial pressure and it results in tragedy.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 01:40
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I am amazed at how the chopper which landed did so, look at the front-end damage. The pilot has come within mm of being killed during the collision.

What I'm going to be most interested in here is what procedures Seaworld had for its helicopters. Such incidents should never happen, but even more so in a situation like this where both aircraft are operating for the same company, where procedures should go beyond the basic regulations.

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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 01:48
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All ya'll best slow down and start thinking carefully about what you are going to post.

If you cannot figure out which seat the Pilots were sitting in.....I would. suggest everything following that small rather insignificant detail... your assumptions are not going to be thought very credible.

As to the clairvoyant making posts about what the Pilots saw or did not see....what they were thinking....and why they did any specific thing....well...I suggest you wait till you know what the heck you are talking about.

Stick to the "facts" and the "evidence" before solving the puzzle based upon pure conjecture.

That old Greek Proverb of "I should smell my hand and know what you are thinking!" holds true here folks.

You don't know....pure and simple.

It is going to take a formal investigation to come up with those kinds of answers with any sort of reliability.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 02:17
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
All ya'll best slow down and start thinking carefully about what you are going to post.

If you cannot figure out which seat the Pilots were sitting in.....I would. suggest everything following that small rather insignificant detail... your assumptions are not going to be thought very credible.

As to the clairvoyant making posts about what the Pilots saw or did not see....what they were thinking....and why they did any specific thing....well...I suggest you wait till you know what the heck you are talking about.

Stick to the "facts" and the "evidence" before solving the puzzle based upon pure conjecture.

That old Greek Proverb of "I should smell my hand and know what you are thinking!" holds true here folks.

You don't know....pure and simple.

It is going to take a formal investigation to come up with those kinds of answers with any sort of reliability.
Thatís the best advice Iíve read on this forum for years, and I totally agree. Some of the other commenters on another thread in relation to a Cessna 210 accident recently in the NT should also take this advice - however what would I knowÖ.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 03:07
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I make no apologies for pointing out the obvious here, two helicopters operating from the same company and location managed to fly into each other - the video evidence clearly shows this and this should not happen.

There will be many causal factors no doubt, including - as has been mentioned, fatigue, complacency, distraction, commercial pressure, procedures etc etc but they do not excuse the loss of lives of fare-paying pax who should expect and deserve the highest levels of safety and airmanship from those taking their money.

If comments like mine cause other pilots to look long and hard at what they are doing, or being asked to do, and just take that little bit extra care - or maybe even say no to an unsafe operation - then any critical comments I get are worth it.

I am too long in the tooth and have seen way too many such accidents - as many here have - to be precious about this sort of thing.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 03:20
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Originally Posted by logansi View Post
I am amazed at how the chopper which landed did so, look at the front-end damage. The pilot has come within mm of being killed during the collision.

What I'm going to be most interested in here is what procedures Seaworld had for its helicopters. Such incidents should never happen, but even more so in a situation like this where both aircraft are operating for the same company, where procedures should go beyond the basic regulations.

I just want to know who was responsible for the recovery of this machine. Whilst appearing heavily damaged there is no structure in this area, and it is highly likely that it is economically repairable. That is until you lift it with three strops around the blade sleeves, probably rendering most of the MRH U/S. Why on earth is the lifting point on top of the AVA not being used for an approved lift? The company maintenance facility is right there!
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 03:35
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Strikes me there is a lot of unrelated traffic in the immediate area and more importantly on the assigned frequency ( shared by multiple heliports, 2 airfields, one of which offers training, and a popular low level scenic route for pros and weekend warriors alike). It would be all too easy for the typically brief company broadcast to get trodden on or swamped in the noise of sunny, public holiday traffic. Throw in an approach from an unexpected direction or an early return to the pad and the first few holes of lost situational awareness can start lining up. 😥

I don't indulge in the rotary vice, but am often airborne and waterborne in the vicinity and have never witnessed anything which struck me as remotely cowboyish or unsafe about the operation. In any event, a tragedy for all concerned, let's hope all those still in hospital make a full recovery.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 03:39
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Originally Posted by Planetary View Post
I just want to know who was responsible for the recovery of this machine. Whilst appearing heavily damaged there is no structure in this area, and it is highly likely that it is economically repairable. That is until you lift it with three strops around the blade sleeves, probably rendering most of the MRH U/S. Why on earth is the lifting point on top of the AVA not being used for an approved lift? The company maintenance facility is right there!
Iím pretty sure the wreckage will be under the control of the ATSB, not the operator or insurance company. There are provisions in the TSI Act that enforce it. Eventually the wreckage will be handed back over to the operator/insurance company/s.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 03:43
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I just want to know who was responsible for the recovery of this machine. Whilst appearing heavily damaged there is no structure in this area, and it is highly likely that it is economically repairable. That is until you lift it with three strops around the blade sleeves, probably rendering most of the MRH U/S. Why on earth is the lifting point on top of the AVA not being used for an approved lift? The company maintenance facility is right there!
I think you will find that since the tide was coming in and in an hour or two that whole sandbank will be 10ft under water they were doing whatever they could quickly to get it off the sand bank. Yes may have caused more damage to the rotorhead but not as much as being submerged in salt water overnight.

​​​​​​​If you look at YouTube footage of similar flights you will see the pilots in the right seat.
- probably because those videos were shot in their B2s NOT the EC130s that were involved in the accident. In case you dont know about helicopters the EC130B4 is a left hand drive machine, therefore since both helos were EC130B4s then both pilots were on the left hand side.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 04:45
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Originally Posted by Maisk Rotum View Post
If you look at YouTube footage of similar flights you will see the pilots in the right seat. Notwithstanding that fact, if both in the left seat, the taking off pilot would not have seen the landing one. The landing one possibly distracted, throw in complacency, commercial pressure and it results in tragedy.
You tube footage is of the older choppers, these weíre only registered in Nov and are left seat setup
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 04:58
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A question about the strength of the cabin.
One would assume that all the pax had seat belts on.

It looks like the cabin/body, once the rotors (and apparently the gearbox), had separated, the craft become inverted.
Approximate height of impact is about 10-15mtrs.
One assumes that the top of the cabin has collapsed and caused the pax to hit head/body down first.

Q: Is there a safety build requirement in helicopters for an inverted landing...?

As the investigation takes place, I can't help but think that the landing pilot should be 'Giving Way' to a taking off Pilot.
After all, he/she should be more alert to the landing awareness...

I live close by and watch these pilots take off every day from Sea World, as I am trundle around the Broadwater area, They fly over my house from their morning start - refuel - home.
Talk is that maybe the 5min - 10min flights are too fast and quick.,,,

Hope the criticaly injured get well. The GGUH is a great hospital.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 06:10
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As the investigation takes place, I can't help but think that the landing pilot should be 'Giving Way' to a taking off Pilot.
After all, he/she should be more alert to the landing awareness...
True, but made a lot more complicated if the flightpath of the landing pilot is at right angles to the flightpath of the pilot taking-off. Your ability to "see" the traffic can be limited by your expectation of where to look. The surviving pilot did an outstanding job to get that on the ground and keep his passengers alive.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 06:37
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Originally Posted by helispotter View Post
Many years back, I took a scenic flight in the former Sea World Long Ranger, VH-UTL as a helicopter enthusiast as much as anything. For others who are unfamiliar with the Sea World site, their original helipad was accessed from within the theme park itself and was built on pylons over the water. That is the one that video shows was used by the departing EC 130B4 which was most likely VH-XKQ. A short distance south of that pad was their hangar facility which could accommodate three helicopters each on its own dolly that could be rolled out to a further helipad on pylons and also over the water (see Helicopters Australasia Jan/Feb 1999 issue). I am not sure if this is still used to hangar helicopters. Further south again, and effectively outside the 'theme park' boundary is a newer facility with four landing pads and newer hangar(s). Google Maps satellite view doesn't show that facility yet, rather only a single helipad earlier on. See attached screen shots stitched together from one of the videos in a link I provided earlier.

Going by the apparent flight paths in the video footage, my feeling is that VH-XH9 may have been approaching one of the helipads of the newer facility while VH-XKQ crossed its path on its departure. In the screen shots, it is as if the older helipads might be marked "X" rather than the usual "H". I recently came across an emergency helipad elsewhere in Australia where the original "H" marking was overpainted with "X" suggesting it was no longer in use. Was it perhaps intended for a period that those earlier Sea World pads were no longer intended to be used?
The original pad was indeed deactivated at the time of the new pads in the carpark area in 2019 and only was only recently refurbished and reactivated, presumably to get more walk up passengers.
I'd suggest either the SOPs weren't adjusted for the potential for conflicting traffic between the old and the new pads or someone forgot to follow them.

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