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2014 Helidubai impact attributed to pilot error

Posted 16 January 2017 · Add Comment

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority has attributed the January 2014 impact of a Helidubai Airbus ED-130B4 helicopter with the Atlantis Palm heliport to pilot error. The incident happened during departure from the heliport to the Dubai Air Wing fixed operating base at Dubai International Airport.

The aircraft, with just the pilot and the helicopter landing officer as passenger, was making the final 15-minute positioning flight of its six daily runs to the FOB along the coast of the The Palm island. The final GCAA accident report says the flight required lifting to a hover position, a pedal turn to a northerly heading and a standard climbing departure from the heliport.  The report states: “On lift-off, the pilot simultaneously pulled power into the climb while applying continuous left pedal, turning the aircraft counter clockwise (to the left).  This turn continued past the optimal northerly heading or departure, with the aircraft turning rapidly counter clockwise. The turn rate accelerated, increasing to approximately 180° per second at a height of approximately 22 metres (72 feet) above the heliport. The aircraft then descended rapidly, pitching forward, while continuing in a counter clockwise turn prior until impact with the heliport.”

The helicopter rotated approximately 50 times on the heliport prior to contacting a drainage curb which brought it to a halt. One witness describing the incident as “being like an airshow.” The aircraft remained in that position with the engine running and the damaged rotor blades turning with the pilot, who had resigned from Helidubai and was working his notice, and the landing officer, who were both injured, being hospitalised for treatment.

The GCAA’s Air Accident Investigation Sector has determined the cause of the accident was intentional entry into a continuous left hand pedal turn, which rapidly increased the aircraft’s rotation rate, leading to an unstable condition developing outside the pilot’s ability to respond, resulting in a loss of in-flight control and impact with the heliport.

“The pilot was in a spatial disorientation resulting from the rapid onset of the yaw/high speed rotation combined with the effects of the rotational inertia forcing the pilot and HLO forward. The pilot was unable to determine the cause of the induced turn rate and apply the corrective actions necessary to return to a stable, steady state condition.  The pilot lowered the collective resulting in an uncontrolled descent onto the heliport,” says the report.

The final accident report contains 10 safety recommendations:  three addressed to Helidubai; five to the GCAA and two to the European Safety Agency.

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