Accident: Aerospatiale (Eurocopter) AS 350B1, EI-IHL, Ballynacally, Co.Clare, 12 Jul 2007: Report No 2009-006

SYNOPSIS

On 12 July 2007, the helicopter was undertaking a routine safety inspection of gas pipelines under contract to the National gas supplier.  A crew of two were on board, a Pilot and an Observer.  The inspection route took the helicopter south of Ennis and along the Shannon estuary towards Foynes.  In the vicinity of Lisheen, a descent was made to facilitate closer inspection of works on the surface. A 360-degree inspection turn was carried out to the left before following the pipeline onwards.  Shortly after the completion of the inspection turn, the engine stopped suddenly and without warning.  The Pilot lowered the collective and attempted to enter autorotation from a low level and over difficult and undulating terrain. 

The helicopter impacted into farmland to the west of Ballynacally in rising terrain.  The Observer was pronounced dead at the scene.  The Pilot suffered serious impact injuries and was airlifted by Coast Guard helicopter to hospital in Galway. 

 

The Investigation determined that the engine stoppage was as a result of the 41-tooth Bevel Gear disintegrating due to fatigue. The 41-tooth Bevel Gear is a component of the engine accessory gearbox, and resulted in a loss of drive to the Fuel Control Unit (FCU) stopping the engine within seconds.

 

 

Occurrence Date: 
Thursday, 12 July, 2007
Report Date: 
Wednesday, 18 February, 2009