'Helicopter lost power', crash investigators told

A helicopter crashed near Coffs Aero Club this morning.
A helicopter crashed near Coffs Aero Club this morning.

FRIDAY 10AM: SHORTLY after take-off from the Coffs Harbour Aerodrome, the tail of this Bell 206 with two people on board struck the ground with the force of the impact ripping the rear rotor from the aircraft.

Engine failure is believed to have caused the Tasmanian-bound helicopter to stall and lose power. 

Shaken, but suffering just minor injuries and whiplash, the pilot and his passenger evacuated the helicopter as authorities were alerted to the incident on Thursday just before 7am.

Fire and Rescue crews descended on the nearby tarmac in the fear the helicopter's fuel tank may have ruptured after reports it impacted heavily with the ground. Police said once the scene was declared safe the northern end of the airport was reopened to private air traffic.

Officers investigating the crash interviewed the pilot and eye witnesses while investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducted investigations into the helicopter's logs and service history.

The helicopter is owned by a major national trenching company and is understood to have fuelled at the Coffs Harbour Aerodrome.

Investigation findings will be published in coming weeks.


1PM: AUSTRALIAN Transport Safety Bureau investigators are collecting information on this morning's helicopter crash at the Coffs Harbour Airport. 

Police officers who attended the scene have gathered statements from the pilot and passenger and the ATSB says it is inspecting the logs and service history of the Bell 206 to determine what caused the helicopter's tail and rear rotor to strike the ground.

A media spokesman with the aviation safety authority says investigators will interview the pilot in a 'desk based investigation' from Canberra. 

It is understood the incident may have occurred after the helicopter took off from the Coffs Harbour Aerodrome tarmac around 7am.

The ATSB says its findings will be released after a report on the accident is finalised.  


8.30AM: THE pilot of the helicopter, which crash landed at the Coffs Harbour Airport this morning, suffered whiplash and back soreness after the rear rotor was ripped from the aircraft when it struck the ground.

The pilot and a passenger, who was uninjured, were able to evacuate the Bell 206 quickly and alerted authorities just before 7am. 

Fire and Rescue crews initially feared the helicopter could erupt into flames after the fuel tank suffered damage when it impacted with the ground.

Police said the southern end of the airport remains open to commercial air traffic.

The northern end of the airport near the aerodrome remains closed this morning with an investigation to notify the Australian Transport Safety Board of the events that caused the helicopter to crash.

The ATSB says it is waiting on information from the scene as to whether the crash happened on landing or take-off. 

The helicopter is believed to belong to a national trenching company.


7.30AM: A CRITICAL incident is unfolding at Coffs Harbour Airport where a helicopter crashed at around 7am.

It's believed one person has escaped serious injury but there are no details as yet of any other persons being injured.

Police, Fire and Rescue and Hazmat crews are at the scene.

More information when available.

Topics:  coffs harbour airport editors picks helicopter crash

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