Whitsunday pilot forced to land chopper mid-flight
The aviation watchdog is investigating after a charter helicopter was forced to land on Hamilton Island when the pilot detected fumes.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has deemed the landing a “serious incident” and is in the evidence collection phase of what is expected to be a short investigation.
The Robinson R44, operated by GSL Aviation, had taken off from Proserpine for a scenic flight to Whitehaven Beach on February 3, 2021.
A preliminary report revealed during the cruise the pilot detected fumes in the cockpit and noticed the clutch actuator light flicker, followed by an issue with the drivetrain belts.
The pilot conducted a forced landing at the Hamilton Island aerodrome just before 1pm. No one was injured and the aircraft was not damaged in the incident.
A post-flight inspection revealed a drivetrain belt was missing.
As part of the investigation, ATSB transport safety investigators will interview involved parties, analyse any available recorded data, and examine maintenance records and other relevant documentation.
A report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation.
However, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.