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A fatigue crack in a turbine blade spread rapidly, causing a helicopter’s engine failure, an ATSB investigation has found.
The incident occurred when a twin-engined Airbus Helicopters AS355F-1 helicopter, registered VH-SEV, was completing an air-taxi from a hangar to a maintenance facility at Sydney’s Bankstown Airports. On board were the pilot and one passenger.
As the skids touched the ground on landing, the pilot heard a loud “squeal” from the helicopter’s right-hand side. The pilot scanned the instrument panel and observed the engine gas generator speed (Ng) drop to 55 percent and the right-hand engine chip light illuminate. A few seconds later, the pilot observed smoke coming from that side of the aircraft and immediately shut down the right-hand engine.
Mechanics from a nearby workshop quickly extinguished the engine fire. There was substantial damage to the engine, and minor heat damage to the surrounding structure of the helicopter.
“Any pilot, regardless of their level of experience, can find themselves confronted with an unexpected failure,” said ATSB director of transport safety Stuart Macleod. “The pilot’s quick response to the unexpected failure helped ensure the best possible safety outcome.”