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ATSB report released - Crash of Bell UH-1 helicopter VH-UVC - Port Stephens, NSW


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The ATSB have released their final report today, on the crash of Bell UH-1, VH-UVC into the sea off Port Stephens on 6th Sept 2019, with the resultant death of all 5 on board.

 

Incredibly, the ATSB report shows the pilot committed the classic piloting error of continuing to fly after the published time of last light. Spatial disorientation followed, ending by the inevitable crash into the sea.

 

https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/5779863/ao-2019-050-final.pdf

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Stupid. Carrying the fuel in the aircraft instead of refueling at a bowser probably sealed their fate. They probably effed around for at least an hour instead of a 10 minute stop. Sounds like it needed to be a two stop mission anyway. If their departure was delayed for some reason it ended just like JFK junior's last flight.

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The part that staggers me is, he was flying a helicopter, for Gods sake! He could've put down anywhere - even if he did cop some flak for an outlanding where a chopper landing wasn't approved. 

 

Too focused on the importance of the destination, and too overconfident in his own ability to fly after last light. And the worst part is taking 4 innocent pax with him, who entrusted their lives to him.

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A sad day...

 

In the months leading up to the prang I noted there were always an enthusiastic group around the chopper. Plenty of flying done so the pilot would have bean fairly conversant with the machine. As to the pilot being conversant with the panel mod’s, I don’t know. One thing I do know is the pilot did not knowingly set out to have a prang that day.

 

Going off the accident report we have a grab bag of issues that can trap the inexperienced or untrained: Pax, high winds, turbulence, dust, clouds, rain, panel, and the oncoming night to which the aircraft and pilot were not apparently suited. The report discounts the medical issue reference the prang. Fuel is basic training stuff, so...?

 

Panel: I don’t know what av related info were on the iPad that were front and centre to the pilot.  I’m guessing there were a nav app. There could have been a usable IF panel on the iPad. I’ve never used an iPad, or similar, for flight so don’t know much about the nav apps. One thing I do know is they can be very bright to look at in a dark cockpit unless dimmed. The report references the left panel AH so I’ll assume the iPad were the nav panel. 

I would hate to be trying to do basic IF flight by looking at a large block of bright light in front of me whilst also having to turn my head to look a long way over to the AH that may have relatively very dim lighting. And then there’s the ‘leans’...  

 

nuf fer now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How many hours was he flying for before the crash? the level of concentration would be very high for a helicopter flying. I see something about they would two hour flying stints in the old hueys when they had two pilot.

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FB, you're pointing at peripherals with Ipads, pax, high winds, turbulence, bright lights in the cockpit. The Huey is war-proven and driven well past its manufacturer limits, tens of thousands of times by gung-ho American pilots in Vietnam - you can't kill it. They even used the rotors to chop down vegetation, the rotors are weighted for it.

 

The simple over-riding fact that led to this crash, is that an over-confident pilot kept on driving, past official last light, into gathering darkness, supremely confident in his ability to fly in the dark without training. 

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Yes he shouldn't have been flying. An added risk was going out over the water, he was forced to because of no clearance available. The was buggar all traffic at Williamtown but he was forced to fly out over the water and remain clear of airspace.

Flying over water (Dark night no horizon) without reference to instruments and no visible lights from houses or traffic is impossible. 

I have had trouble in shit weather trying to get through Williamtown where there was no other traffic. 

With restricted airspace and CASA's drive to rid Australia of GA there won't be a problem for much longer, nobody will be flying.

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1 hour ago, Student Pilot said:

Yes he shouldn't have been flying. An added risk was going out over the water, he was forced to because of no clearance available. The was buggar all traffic at Williamtown but he was forced to fly out over the water and remain clear of airspace.

Flying over water (Dark night no horizon) without reference to instruments and no visible lights from houses or traffic is impossible. 

I have had trouble in shit weather trying to get through Williamtown where there was no other traffic. 

With restricted airspace and CASA's drive to rid Australia of GA there won't be a problem for much longer, nobody will be flying.

The pilot was not denied any clearance. From the report.

 

At 1757, the pilot of UVC contacted Approach and requested a clearance. At 1758, the Approach controller identified UVC’s position as 7.4 km to the north-east of Broughton Island (Figure 1), and advised the pilot they could operate at whatever altitude was required provided it was not below 2,400 ft.[4] The pilot responded with a request to operate between 3,000 and 3,500 ft. UVC was cleared to track coastal southbound at a block altitude between 3,000 and 3,500 ft.

At 1759, following an inquiry from the Approach controller, the pilot advised that Bankstown was the intended destination. At 1800, the pilot was advised that if any further track or altitude changes were required, to inform Air Traffic Control (ATC) accordingly. While no response was required, the pilot did not acknowledge the transmission.

Published last light for Anna Bay, NSW was 1801. At this time the controller again contacted UVC to offer alternative tracking if required. The pilot responded requesting to remain on the eastern side of the R578A Williamtown restricted area. The controller clarified this request and in response, the pilot advised that if the track was not available, they would continue on the VFR coastal route. The pilot was then cleared to track as required for Bankstown Airport. The track clearance was acknowledged by the pilot at 1802.

 

The pilot then appeared to track direct Bankstown rather than remaining coastal with ground lights which would have saved 1 minute @95knots. A stupid decision.  

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I stand corrected. I have never found Williamtown easy to negotiate, I have never been given a clearance to track coastal at any height immediately. Been held for over half an hour with no explanation then allowed to track coastal. I never had a plan and contacted them direct. Even with no traffic Williamtown/Tamworth/Coffs Harbour were always hard to get on with when trying to get a clearance, busy traffic or not.

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There were secondary and tertiary factors in the crash, in that the pilot only had an estimated 5 hrs sleep in the night previous to the trip. Furthermore, he was taking 4 prescription drugs, 2 of which are incompatible with flying.

I'll leave it to individuals here, to add 2 and 2 to get 4, as to the level of this crash pilots serious medical problems, that he failed to advise CASA about.

The drugs he was taking are for serious conditions, such as addiction withdrawal symptoms, and bi-polar disorder. IMO, he should not have been piloting at all, whilst undergoing this treatment.


 

Quote

Other factors that increased risk

• The pilot did not disclose on-going treatment for significant health issues to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. That prevented specialist consideration and management of the on-going flight safety risk the medical conditions and prescribed medications posed.

 

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On 28/06/2021 at 5:18 PM, Student Pilot said:

I stand corrected. I have never found Williamtown easy to negotiate, I have never been given a clearance to track coastal at any height immediately. Been held for over half an hour with no explanation then allowed to track coastal. I never had a plan and contacted them direct. Even with no traffic Williamtown/Tamworth/Coffs Harbour were always hard to get on with when trying to get a clearance, busy traffic or not.

Just my two cents worth, never had to contact Williamtown but have had nothing but excellent service from both Tamworth and Coffs. over many visits to their airspace.

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