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Manslaughter charges in fatal R-22 crash.


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Fatal helicopter crash blamed on rotor

12 September 2006 Wellington,New Zealand



A fatal helicopter crash near Murchison last August was caused by an incorrectly assembled tail rotor drive shaft, a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigation has concluded.



Philip Heney, 52, a father of nine, was killed when his privately owned two-seater Robinson R22 helicopter ZK-HVN crashed just 100m from his Shenandoah home, 23km southwest of Murchison last August 25.


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Prepare for an earthquakeA passenger in the helicopter, Hamish Teddy, of Wakefield, near Nelson, survived the crash with serious leg injuries.


In a CAA report released today investigators found the crash was caused by the failure of a tail rotor drive shaft that had been incorrectly assembled.


"One or more of the unsupervised and unlicensed maintenance personnel had incorrectly bolted the aft flange of the tail rotor drive shaft directly to the input yoke of the tail rotor gearbox which resulted in failure of the tail rotor drive shaft," the report said.


"The risk taking behaviour exhibited during the maintenance of ZK-HVN allowed a critical defect to be built in to the helicopter's tail rotor drive system and then allowed it to remain undetected."


Compliance with civil aviation rules and an associated advisory circular would have prevented the accident, the CAA inspector found.


AdvertisementAdvertisementTwo Nelson men, aged 55 and 58, have been charged with manslaughter over the crash.


They are scheduled to appear in Nelson District Court on Thursday.




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What always amazes me is a crash where one person survives and others die. Both persons are subjected to at least similar forces...anyway..if these persons maintaining the aircraft purposely cut corners then I say " let em rot !!"

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The way I read it, they didn't put the aft T/R flex coupling in. They must have stacked up some washers to get the two yokes to connect if that's the case.


Anybody know anymore?


I have seen stuff like that delorean, NOT that bad as eliminating the flex coupling & substituting washers to "make it work"--but things being assembled/installed improperly & then the next mechanic comes along & lays everything out on the bench just as he took it apart--thinking it will be ok to put it back together as he took it apart. When ever i see this? i take a part from the left, mix it with a part on the right, top part goes to bottom,,,,,, then when when mechanic is crying "how am i gonna ever put this together the right way NOW?!" I calmly reply "how do ya know it was together right when ya took it apart"?


as the regulation states for mechanics (my loose interpretation) "if ya dont know what yer doin'?--ya got no right doin' it" i think thats in part 65 somewhere B)


BTW? is the flex coupling visible during a pre-flight on the 22?

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The way I read it, they didn't put the aft T/R flex coupling in. They must have stacked up some washers to get the two yokes to connect if that's the case.


Anybody know anymore?



DeLorean- they kept the flex coupling in, but the way the bolted it in, it was useless....check out the last couple pages of the report above, they have a great diagram of how it was connected...


Talk about bad timing, another couple seconds this bird would have been on the ground.

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  • 4 months later...

more on this today...


Two charged with manslaughter after helicopter crash kills pilot

Thursday February 08, 2007

Critical control system components were not installed correctly in a helicopter which crashed near Murchison, killing the pilot, a Crown prosecutor has told a Nelson court.

SkyTech Aviation owner and managing director John Arthur Horrell, 55, of Nelson, and licensed aircraft maintenance engineer Ronald David Potts, 59, of Mapua, are both charged with the manslaughter of pilot Phillip Devon Heney.

Mr Heney, a father of nine from Shenandoah near Murchison, was killed and a family friend hurt when the Robinson R22 he was flying spun out of control and crashed on his family farm on August 26, 2005.

A depositions hearing began yesterday in Nelson District Court before Justices of the Peace Harry Baigent and Anne Batten. Horrell and Potts have not yet pleaded to the charge.

The Crown alleges Potts failed in his duty to supervise the installation of critical control system components, which were installed incorrectly in the helicopter, and that Horrell failed to ensure his aircraft engineers were supervised adequately when the components were installed.

Crown prosecutor Glen Marshall said Mr Heney's son Keiran Heney bought the helicopter second-hand in 2004.

On June 14, 2005, after an international directive that Robinson R22 rotor blades had to be changed, Mr Heney flew the helicopter to Nelson maintenance company Skytech for that to be done, for an annual review of airworthiness, and for several parts to be replaced, including the tail rotor driveshaft and the aft flexplate coupling.

The helicopter was released from service on August 26, 2005.

Mr Marshall said an examination revealed that the drive shaft had separated from the flange attaching it to the aft flexplate coupling and tail rotor, causing the tail rotor to cease functioning.

The aft flexplate had been installed incorrectly, he said.

The hearing continues today.

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  • 7 months later...

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