The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has completed its investigation into a fatal helicopter crash that claimed the life of popular Northern Territory cattleman Dougal Brett in June 2015.
The ATSB report identifies contaminated fuel as the cause of the tragic crash.
After re-fuelling from drum fuel supply, the helicopter took off and, a short time later, experienced a loss of engine power at low altitude, resulting in a heavy impact with the ground.
The ATSB said fuel samples recovered from the helicopter’s fuel tanks were heavily contaminated with water and rust-like particles.
“The loss of engine power was a result of fuel starvation due to contaminants introduced into the helicopter’s fuel system during the drum re-fuelling,” the report stated.
The safety regulator said a number of defences are available to eliminate or significantly reduce the chance of using contaminated fuel from drum fuel supplies.
- application of appropriate aviation drum handling and storage methods
- testing drum fuel supplies for contaminants prior to undertaking re-fuelling activities
- use of filter monitors on drum hand pump supply lines
- conducting fuel drains from aircraft after each refuel to ensure fuel quality.
The ATSB said conduct of recurrent flight training allows pilots to practice and better respond to time critical emergencies such as those that occur from a low altitude.
The ATSB report is available on its website