Accident Robinson R44 Raven II ZT-RLP, Saturday 14 October 2023
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Date:Saturday 14 October 2023
Time:14:45 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44 Raven II
Registration: ZT-RLP
MSN: 13921
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Dwarsfontein Farm near Lephalale -   South Africa
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Dwarsfontein Farm near Lephalale
Destination airport:Dwarsfontein Farm near Lephalale
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On Saturday afternoon, 14 October 2023, a pilot and two passengers on-board a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter with registration ZT-RLP took off from Dwarsfontein Farm near Lephalale in Limpopo province with the intention to land back at the same farm. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) by day prevailed at the time of the flight which was conducted under the provisions of Part 91 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 2011 as amended.

According to the pilot, they were counting Zebra and other antelope species on the farm with the intention to catch the Zebra at a later stage. The antelope that they found were culled from the helicopter, with the shooter positioned behind the pilot on the right side. The shooter used a conventional hunting rifle to shoot the animals. There was no cartridge collector or similar type of device fitted to the rifle to prevent the empty cartridges from falling from the helicopter after being ejected from the rifle. The pilot stated that whilst he was positioning the helicopter for the shooter, the low main rotor revolutions per minute (RPM) audio warning sounded and the warning light on the instrument panel illuminated. He entered autorotational flight and the helicopter touched down hard on the skid gear in a dense bush with rocky terrain. The main rotor and tail rotor blades contacted the dense bush and shrubs around the helicopter which caused substantial damage to the blades. The helicopter also sustained structural damage during the hard landing. The helicopter remained in an up-right position. No person was injured during the accident.

According to the passenger who was seated next to the pilot on the left front seat, there were several occasions during the flight in which the pilot struggled with power; on several occasions, the pilot pushed the nose down and flew a circuit before he could reposition the helicopter for the shooter.

Probable Cause
Whilst manoeuvring the helicopter during a game culling operation, the pilot allowed the main rotor RPM to decay. He entered autorotation flight at 200ft AGL, which resulted in a hard landing in hostile terrain.

Contributing Factors
(i) High density altitude conditions prevailed during the flight with a temperature of 35°C being recorded at the time, and which had a direct effect on the engine performance.
(ii) The helicopter was operated near its maximum take-off weight with a substantial forward and lateral CG condition. This explained the observation of the passenger that the pilot had to reposition the helicopter for the shooter several times.
(iii) The pilot did not have a helicopter cull or livestock rating.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Report number: CA18/2/3/10379
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 months
Download report: Final report




Revision history:

30-Jan-2024 13:20 ASN Added
30-Jan-2024 13:22 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative, Plane category]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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