Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Chopper Crash A[euro][approximately]pilot Error'; ATSB Report Says Helicopter's Hover Capability Was Only A[euro][approximately]marginal'

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Chopper Crash A[euro][approximately]pilot Error'; ATSB Report Says Helicopter's Hover Capability Was Only A[euro][approximately]marginal'

Article excerpt

A HELICOPTER that crashed in the Kimberley region, killing all four people aboard, was being flown too close to the ground at the edge of its hover ability, an investigation has found.

The Robinson R44 helicopter exploded on impact and burst into flames after plunging into Piccaninny Creek near the Bungle Bungle ranges on September 14, 2008, during a scenic flight.

Kunanurra locals Whitney Pinney, 20, Sarah Thomas, 20, and Jessica Cousins, 19, along with Queensland pilot Cristian Catargiu, 40, were killed.

The helicopter was operated by Slingair Heliwork WA, owned by former Australian ironman and Olympian Grant Kenny's Curry-Kenny Aviation Group.

In its final report on the crash, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the pilot had deviated from the regular flight route to operate close to the ground at a low speed or hovering.

The helicopter's hover performance in such conditions was marginal, the report said.

"It is likely that the high level of engine power required to sustain a hover in the local conditions was not available, or not fully utilised by the pilot," the report said. …

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