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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 43933
Last updated: 28 July 2020
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Date:01-DEC-2006
Time:07:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:Crown Aviation
Registration: DQ-IHE
C/n / msn: 10344
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Nadi, Viti Levu -   Fiji
Phase: En route
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:Nadi International Airport, Nadi, Fiji (NAN/NFFN)
Destination airport:Vomo Island, Fiji
Narrative:
On December 1, 2006, about 07:00 local time (19:00 UTC), a Robinson R44, DQ-IHE, collided with water near Nadi, Fiji. Crown Aviation was operating the helicopter under the provisions of the Fiji Civil Aviation Regulations. The pilot sustained fatal injuries; the helicopter was destroyed. The cross-country positioning flight departed Nadi en route to VOMO Island. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had been filed. The primary wreckage was near 17 degrees 39 minutes south latitude and 177 degrees 22 minutes east longitude.

Preliminary information received from the government of Fiji indicated that the helicopter was in level cruise flight about 500 feet above ground level (agl). Witnesses said that the engine sound suddenly changed, and sounded to be very rough running. The helicopter then began fluttering from side to side and losing altitude. Then there was a loud explosion with black smoke coming from the back of the helicopter, and it dropped towards the sea. Prior to impact, something that looked like a long flat piece of wood fell from the back.

On-site inspection of the helicopter by representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Fiji Islands revealed that one of the two helicopter blades remained intact but the other fractured into multiple pieces, with extensive fractures along the adhesive bond joints. The rotor blade failed at 1,083 hours TIS. The investigation is ongoing and the cause of the accident has not been determined.

The NTSB is assisting in the investigation, pursuant to Annex 13. Both the fractured blade and the intact blade were shipped to the NTSB’s Materials Laboratory, where investigators found extensive debonding at the adhesive bond joints of the fractured blade. The origin of the debonding could not be determined because fracture features appeared to emanate mostly from the tip area of the blade, which was not recovered.

Investigators found that major portions of the fractures at the adhesive bond joints emanated from the leading edges of the skin in isolated areas that contained adhesive fracture features. The fracture faces in the remaining portions of the adhesive bond joints showed mixed cohesive and adhesive failure fracture features with a large percentage of adhesive failure, indicating that the bond strength deteriorated after the blade was manufactured.

Sources:

1. NTSB Identification: LAX07WA057 at https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20070125X00092&ntsbno=LAX07WA057&akey=1
2. https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/A08_25_29.pdf
3. https://www.smh.com.au/national/aussie-pilot-dies-in-fiji-chopper-crash-20061207-gdozqu.html
4. https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/255158-another-aussie-helo-pilot-killed-off-fiji.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
29-Oct-2018 21:30 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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