Accident Robinson R44 G-NUDE, Monday 27 January 2003
ASN logo
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Monday 27 January 2003
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:The Last Great Journey Ltd
Registration: G-NUDE
MSN: 0743
Year of manufacture:2000
Engine model:Lycoming 0-540-F1B5
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:36nm NW of Smith Island, South Shetland Islands, British Antarctic Ter -   Antarctica
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Cabo de Hornos in Southern Chile
Destination airport:Teniente Marsh AB, King George Island, Antarctica
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
In late June 2002, Robinson R44 G-NUDE became the first ever piston-engined helicopter to land at the Geographic North Pole. Written off (damaged beyond repair) when ditched 27 January 2003, due to engine failure, 36 nautical miles north-west of Smith Island, one of the South Shetland Islands of the British Antarctic Territory. According to the following extract from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"The two pilots were planning to fly from Cabo de Hornos in Southern Chile across the Drake Passage to Teniente Marsh Airbase on King George Island, Antarctica. After spending several days waiting for a favourable tailwind, they departed at 21:05 hrs for the 440 nautical mile crossing. They established the helicopter in the cruise at 700 feet and a 30 knot tailwind gave them a ground speed of 120 knot.

Just over four hours later, approaching King George Island, they observed sea fog ahead of them so they headed to the southwest and attempted to make landfall. Shortly afterwards a vibration was felt, emanating from the engine area, accompanied by a reduction in power output. It became necessary to lower the collective lever to maintain rotor rpm which resulted in a slow rate of descent.

After approximately 30 seconds and at 500 feet, the oil pressure fell to zero, the low pressure oil warning light illuminated and a couple of seconds later the engine stopped. The pilot in the right hand seat flew the helicopter in auto rotation whilst the left hand seat occupant climbed out onto the skid and gathered the life raft and emergency kit.

At 20 feet above the sea he jumped into the water. The helicopter was then turned into wind and settled onto the sea surface with zero ground speed. The rotor blades stopped within a few seconds and the remaining pilot jumped into the sea. The helicopter sank almost immediately.

Both pilots boarded the life raft, activated their emergency beacon and used their satellite telephone to call for help. Six hours later they were spotted by the crew of a Chilean Airforce Twin Otter who directed a Chilean Navy vessel to the scene to affect a rescue (10 hours after ditching) and convey the pilots to Teniente Marsh Airbase".

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: EW/G2003/01/18
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB:
2. CAA:

Revision history:

21-Feb-2015 22:20 Dr. John Smith Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314