LUCKY SURVIVAL: Marlborough's Andy Jenkinson was severely injured in a helicopter crash in Far North Queensland on November 18. A new report has explained a dense tree canopy was one of the reasons he survived the crash.
LUCKY SURVIVAL: Marlborough's Andy Jenkinson was severely injured in a helicopter crash in Far North Queensland on November 18. A new report has explained a dense tree canopy was one of the reasons he survived the crash. contributed

How this CQ pilot survived rainforest chopper crash

DENSE bushland and emergency beacons have been identified as the two key factors which saved a Marlborough man in a horror helicopter crash.

Pilot Andy Jenkinson was put into a coma after surviving the 2016 crash, which killed passenger Mitch Kreutzer.

He later underwent surgery for his injuries and a fundraising drive was established to help him and his family during recovery.

The pair were flying over the dense Daintree Rainforest in far north Queensland when the R44 helicopter crashed.

Mitch Kreutzer was remembered as an avid hunter, surfer and rugby player loved by many after he was killed in the crash.
Mitch Kreutzer was remembered as an avid hunter, surfer and rugby player loved by many after he was killed in the crash.

A newly-released Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the crash has found that thick bushland canopy was one of the main reasons Mr Jenkinson survived the crash.

The report found one of the helicopter's main rotor blades struck the tailcone, ripping it from the airframe.

The helicopter then plunged into a near vertical descent before a fiery crash into the Mount Windsor National Park, about 40km northwest of Mossman.

Images from ATSB report show how the trees cushioned the impact of the crash.
Images from ATSB report show how the trees cushioned the impact of the crash.

"The survival of the pilot in this accident was a rare occurrence and was likely due to the reduced rate of descent as the helicopter entered the canopy combined with the orientation of the airframe at impact,” the report said.

The crash set off an emergency beacon that alerted authorities.

Images from ATSB final report into mid-flight breakup of Robinson R44 helicopter near Mossman in 2016
Images from ATSB final report into mid-flight breakup of Robinson R44 helicopter near Mossman in 2016

Searchers found the smoking wreckage in the rainforest less than two hours later.

"The activation of the transmitter on impact was the trigger to start the search and rescue operation, and recover the pilot, who may otherwise have not survived,” the report said.

Mr Jenkinson, 46, had more than 5700 hours flying experience at the time of the crash.

Images from ATSB final report into mid-flight breakup of Robinson R44 helicopter near Mossman in 2016. The map shows where the wreckage was found.
Images from ATSB final report into mid-flight breakup of Robinson R44 helicopter near Mossman in 2016. The map shows where the wreckage was found.

He was conscious when rescuers arrived but was later put in an induced coma for five days and had no recollection of the crash.

The report found the main rotor stalled after losing speed then likely struck the tailcone.

Investigators found the helicopter was likely buffeted by turbulence that had not been forecast although could not determine if the wind and associated turbulence contributed to the accident.

The damaged parts of the helicopter where it crashed in the Daintree Rainforest.
The damaged parts of the helicopter where it crashed in the Daintree Rainforest.

The wreckage was severely burnt but a detailed inspection did not identify any pre-existing defects that might have contributed to the crash.

The Morning Bulletin approached the Jenkinson family prior to publishing this article.



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