Accident Robinson R44 Raven II ZS-RMM, Saturday 12 January 2002
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Date:Saturday 12 January 2002
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44 Raven II
Registration: ZS-RMM
MSN: 0902
Year of manufacture:2000
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Cathedral Peak Hotel, Drakensberg, KZN -   South Africa
Phase: Take off
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Cathedral Peak Hotel (Drakensberg Mountains)
Destination airport:Bell Park Dam – Giants Castle Area
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The pilot, accompanied by two passengers, departed on Friday afternoon, January 11, 2002 from Virginia airport (FAVG - Durban) to a private landing area near Bell Park dam in the Giant’s Castle Area. The duration of the flight was approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The following morning, the pilot was accompanied by three passengers and departed from the pilot’s cottage at Bell Park dam to the Cathedral Peak Hotel to uplift fuel. During landing the low rotor RPM warning light illuminated momentarily, where upon the helicopter was landed. The two rear seated passengers then disembarked from the aircraft, where after it was repositioned and refuelled to capacity.

According to the pilot, prior to his departure from the heli-pad at the Cathedral Peak Hotel, he discussed the load with the Cathedral Peak pilot. (A commercial sight seeing operation was being conducted from the hotel and the helicopter used for this purpose was usually flown by a Commercial or Airline Transort Pilot). “My decision was to check the power necessary to hover with the load we had. I did this twice and both times it was maintaining a hover, pulling 22 inches (Manifold Pressure – MP). Had I not achieved this I would have left 2 passengers at the pad and returned for them. Being sufficiently confident that I had enough power I committed to a take-off. As soon as we lost the ground effect the rotor RPM started to drop, the horn came on, and the machine descended to the eventual crash site”.

Probable Cause
The aircraft’s in ground effect (IGE) hover capabilities were exceeded by approximately 147 pounds which rendered the aircraft too heavy to conduct a safe IGE hover take-off under prevailing conditions. The pilot allowed the main rotor RPM to decay below the safe minimum allowable limit (warning light & audio warning sounded) while attempting a running take-off with four adult occupants onboard. He was unable to obtain sufficient flying speed from this condition and crashed 0.2nm from the point of take-off.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. Copter crash survivor mourns bride

Revision history:

25-Mar-2017 08:39 Topaz Added
02-Mar-2021 16:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
02-Mar-2021 16:49 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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