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Response to fuel exhaustion event involving Robinson 44 II

Civil Aviation Safety Authority 2 mins read



The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is reminding pilots of the importance of effective fuel management and carefully following safety protocols and approved procedures , especially when conducting high-risk aviation activities.


This follows the release of a report today into a tragic accident in which a pilot likely ran out of fuel and dropped a person from a sling underneath the helicopter.


The ATSB found the helicopter was likely not refuelled enroute and the pilot did not identify that they had low fuel before the engine stopped.


CASA Chief Executive Officer and Director of Aviation Safety, Pip Spence, said that it was important to look at what went wrong, and what could be learnt to prevent similar accidents occurring in the future.


‘Fuel management is a critical part of flight planning and something that all pilots know and learn early in their training,’ said Ms Spence.


‘We encourage pilots to refresh their skills on effective fuel management by either attending one of our aviation safety seminars or by using the resources we have available on our pilot safety hub.’


‘We also encourage operators conducting specialised operations to ensure they understand the procedures in place to manage the safety risks and follow them diligently,’ Ms Spence said.


Specialised operations with external loads such as powerline inspection, aerial firefighting, and search and rescue require diligent compliance with safety procedures. CASA assesses applications from operators and considers the actions that they will take to mitigate the identified risks prior to approving any activity.


The report also made a finding that CASA could have better documented our decision making, and the internal risk management methodology we use when considering applications from operators. That finding has now been addressed and closed.


CASA’s assessment on the reliability of the helicopter hook led to a height limitation being imposed.  Once the hook was assessed and approved, the height restriction was removed.


Fuel planning is the current focus of CASA’s Aviation Safety Seminars running across Australia. CASA encourages all pilots to visit the Pilot Safety Hub on CASA’s website



Media contact:      CASA Media     1 300 773806


22 November 2023                                                                        MR6223


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