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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 223244
Last updated: 25 October 2021
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Date:15-AUG-2018
Time:08:30 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic R22 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R22 Beta
Owner/operator:The Mondrepie Trust
Registration: ZS-HBP
MSN: 4331
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Thaba Thala Game Farm, Sterkstroom district, near Queenstown -   South Africa
Phase: En route
Nature:SU
Departure airport:Thaba Thala Game Farm, Sterkstroom district, near Queenstown
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Narrative:
On Tuesday, 14 August 2018, a pilot flew from O.R. Tambo Aerodrome (FAOR) to Port Elizabeth Aerodrome (FAPE) to assist a game capture team to capture 75 antelope (Lechwes) on a private game reserve near Sterkstroom in the Eastern Cape province. The antelope were earmarked for a buyer in Namibia.
The pilot was collected at FAPE and was transported to a farm near Cradock where the helicopter was parked on a trailer. The game capture team then towed the helicopter to a private game reserve where they were to commence with the capture operation the next morning. The antelope were captured after being darted by a veterinarian from the helicopter, where after, a ground capture team moved in and loaded the antelope onto a capture vehicle, which in turn was offloaded at the ‘station’ where the trucks were waiting to transport the animals. Both doors of the helicopter were removed for this operation. The veterinarian was seated on the leftside of the helicopter and was secured by an additional harness which was secured to the helicopter’s safety harness; this additional harness allowed him ample movement to dart the animals. According to available
information, there were no eyewitnesses to this accident, but several members of the game capture team heard the impact and rushed to the scene where the helicopter was found lying on its left side 21 metres from a set of high-tension power lines. The pilot was seriously injured in the accident and the veterinarian succumbed to his injuries at the scene as he was found trapped underneath the main wreckage.

The accident could be attributed to an external event (third party), which could be associated with an unintentional or deliberate act by a person or persons on the ground who either fired a rifle/gun at the helicopter, whereby the projectile/bullet penetrated one of the main rotor blades.
The pilot most probably not only heard the shot being fired (if a silencer was not used) but he would have felt a vibration on the helicopter flight controls after the projectile/bullet had penetrated the blade. He could have interpreted this as a catastrophic failure of some kind and, to avoid colliding with the power lines, he most probably made an unintentional control input by yanking back on the cyclic, which resulted in the tail boom being severed by the main rotor blades; thereafter, control was lost, and the helicopter impacted the ground.


In proximity to the main wreckage was a shooting range which consisted of a boma/shooting platform; a standalone target, which was 100m from the boma; and a back stop (heap of sand), which was 200m from the boma.

Sources:

1. http://www.caa.co.za/Accidents%20and%20Incidents%20Reports/ZS-HBP.pdf
NTSB
3. http://avcom.co.za/airport2/aircraftview.php?showdetail=&Registration=ZS-HBP

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 9 months
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
20-Mar-2019 18:14 Dr. John Smith Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description