Accident Eurocopter EC-120 ZS-RLN, 23 Aug 2005
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 272564
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Type:Silhouette image of generic EC20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC-120
Registration: ZS-RLN
MSN: 1065
Fatalities:Fatalities: / Occupants:
Aircraft damage:
Location:Kruger National Park -   South Africa
Departure airport:Skukuza Aerodrome, Mpumalanga (FASZ)
Destination airport:Ngotso Dam, ±20 km north of Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The pilot departed early in the morning from Skukuza to Ngotso Dam, located to the north of Satara, to take part in a planned operation to capture buffalo for a registered research project. The capture operation started once the ground crew had arrived and final preparations had been completed. The pilot flew the helicopter from the left-hand side of the cockpit. A trainee veterinarian was occupying the right front seat, and the veterinarian, responsible for selecting and darting the buffalo, was positioned in the rear of the helicopter behind the pilot. The veterinarian was properly restrained by both a lap strap and a safety harness (monkey chain). The buffalo herd was quickly located and an area in which to work with the animals was identified. The area was flat, relatively open and contained a number of stunted (2 ' 3 m high) knob thorn trees. A herd of buffalo of approximately 350 ' 400 animals was divided up into smaller groups by flying the helicopter low over the top of them. The veterinarian commenced darting whilst the pilot manoeuvred the helicopter. However, while the pilot was concentrating on the animals, the main rotor blades of the helicopter struck the top of a knob thorn tree. The pilot noticed that he had struck a tree as leaves and debris were flying in the air. The aircraft felt stable with very little vibration following the event, and it was flown to an open/clear area, which was approximately 200 ' 300 m further on. An uneventful landing followed. Nobody onboard the helicopter was injured. The pilot was the holder of valid commercial pilot licence with a cull/livestock rating, and had the aircraft type endorsed in his logbook. The last mandatory periodic inspection (MPI) that was carried out on the helicopter prior to the accident was certified on 26 June 2005 at 3 385.8 airframe hours. Probable Cause The pilot allowed the main rotor blades to collide with a tree during a game-darting operation, while flying in close proximity to the ground. Contributory remark: The pilot was concentrating on the task at hand while positioning the helicopter as close as possible to the animal to ensure that the veterinarian had an accurate darting shot.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:


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