Hard landing Accident Robinson R44 Astro G-URUH, Saturday 19 October 2002
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Date:Saturday 19 October 2002
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44 Astro
Owner/operator:Heli Air Ltd
Registration: G-URUH
MSN: 0354
Year of manufacture:1997
Engine model:Lycoming O-540-F1B5
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Woofferton, S of Ludlow, Shropshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Aberwrystwyth, Wales
Destination airport:Worcester, Worecestershire
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Written off (destroyed) 19 October 2002: wrecked when force landed heavily in an auto-rotative landing at Woofferton, south of Ludlow, Shropshire (at approximate co ordinates 52.311°N 2.705°W) caused by engine failure. The engine failure was simply due to G-URUH running out of fuel. The pilot (the sole person board) was seriously injured. According to the following extract from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"On the morning of the accident the pilot, who was also the owner of the helicopter, arrived at Denham Airfield, Buckinghamshire and after spending some time in the clubhouse went out to the helicopter, which was parked on a grass area nearby, and attempted to start the engine so that he could hover taxi to the fuel pumps.

He experienced some difficulty with starting and requested assistance from an instructor. The helicopter was eventually started and the pilot hovered taxied to the fuel pumps where he asked for the tanks to be filled. The refuelling was carried out in his presence and the refueller later confirmed that both tanks, main and auxiliary, were refuelled to full.

After refuelling the pilot entered the helicopter and prepared to depart. He did not carry out any further visual check of the fuel tank contents or operate the fuel strainers.

The pilot 'booked out' on the radio before departure, giving his destination as Newport, South Wales. It was understood to have been his intention to return to Denham later the same day. The Global Positioning System (GPS), fitted to the helicopter, recorded that he departed Denham at 08:42 hours and flew on a direct track to a private landing site at Newport arriving at 09:50 hours.

His altitude en-route varied between 1,200 and 2,300 feet The GPS recorded that the helicopter became airborne from Newport at 11:48 hours and flew to Aberystwyth, Wales, maintaining en-route altitudes of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet.

Near Aberystwyth it descended to a low altitude over the sea before climbing again and tracking in a generally easterly direction for the remainder of the flight. At 12;56 hours the pilot made a radio call to Shobdon Tower advising that he was en-route from Aberystwyth to Worcester and requested permission to transit the Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ).

At 13:00 hours he transited the Shobdon overhead at an altitude of 1,400 feet. Three minutes later the helicopter began to lose power and the pilot put it into an autorotative descent. The rate of descent was calculated to have averaged 1,000 feet per minute.

The forced landing area at Woofferton, Shropshire, was a level field with a smooth but soft earth surface. The helicopter hit the ground hard on an easterly heading, in a level attitude with significant forward speed and rolled over onto its side. The pilot was injured in the impact but was able to escape from the wreckage, cross a ditch, climb a bank and reach a nearby road where a passing motorist stopped and gave assistance."

The G-URUH case study considers what happens when a helicopter runs out of fuel. One of the accident investigations team informed me that following a recalculation of the amount of fuel uplifted, and the position of the machine at the time of the landing, the engine had "..stopped at the time it should have done" given the fuel uplifted. Therefore a computation of the usage and the time in flight must be undertaken.

As a rough rule of thumb, the R44 burns 1 litre per minute, so if one uploads 137 litres then this equates to 137 minutes of flying time less start up and hover time. It is also worth pilots remembering the rule about carrying sufficient fuel reserve for holds and diversions in the event of having to divert. Equally, with the R44 having a maximum time on route of 3 hours with brim full tanks, regular refueling is both necessary and desirable. This does not appear to have happened.

The AAIB report confirms that G-URUH was "destroyed", and the registration was cancelled by the CAA on 19 February 2003 for the same reason.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: EW/C2002/10/02
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5422fee4e5274a1314000977/dft_avsafety_pdf_025538.pdf
2. CAA: https://siteapps.caa.co.uk/g-info/rk=URUH
3. http://www.griffin-helicopters.co.uk/accidentdetails.aspx?accidentkey=1824
4. https://www.helicopter-redeye.com/P14B_GURUH.htm
5. [LINK NOT WORKING ANYMORE:http://coptercrazy.brinkster.net/search/r44show.asp?start=351&count=50]
6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/airfield/5222423388

Revision history:

20-Feb-2015 23:57 Dr. John Smith Added
20-Feb-2015 23:59 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
21-Feb-2015 12:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Embed code]
23-Jul-2016 20:26 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]

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