Cow Takes Down Helicopter
This is a Robinson R22 Beta which was dragged out of the air by a cow.
Well, no, it’s unfair to accuse the cow of ill-intent. The pilot was mustering the cattle when he must have flown too low. Apparently, the rails of the helicopter got tangled with the cow’s horns. The helicopter “lost its balance” and crashed. The pilot (and the cow) walked away with no injury but the helicopter caught fire and was totally destroyed.
However, if you watch this video by Outback Cattle Muster showing helicopter cattle mustering in progress, you’ll see why I think the cow could have been pulling the helicopter down on purpose.
I’m amazed at how fast and far the cattle can run. The pilot comments that they have “backpackers” helping on the ground, which is why some of the cattle/jeep conflicts happen. Watching it, it seems the helicopter really is the better option.
In a somewhat bizarre coincidence, yesterday the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) of New Zealand has just released their report on a Piper PA32 which crashed on South Island in August of 2014.
The pilot was carrying out a stock-clearing manoeuvre to move cattle that were on the airstrip, and was in the process of turning the aeroplane around at low level to perform a second pass over the airstrip to scare the livestock away before landing, when the accident occurred.
The pilot turned downwind at low level for a second pass over the airstrip when he stalled the aircraft and crashed. The pilot was killed and two passengers were seriously injured.
…flying at close proximity to the ground requires a high degree of accuracy as there is little margin for error. It is important that pilots are fully aware of the stall characteristics of their aircraft, in particular how they are affected by manoeuvres such as steep turns. Pilots should also be aware of the effects of wind on the amount of ground covered during a turn
The aircraft operator believed stock clearing was permitted. The Civil Aviation Rules, however, do not define or refer to stock clearing and although they don’t specifically prohibit a pilot from carrying out a low approach and overshoot to clear animals off the runway, they do specify that an aircraft cannot be operated at an aerodrome unless the runway is clear of all persons, animals, vehicles and other obstructions.
However, in 2012, the CAA safety magazine specifically referred to stock-clearing manoeuvres in an article about low approach and overshoots.
The pilot involved in the incident was quoted as saying, “A low pass down the runway was accepted common practice as part of a go-around [low approach and overshoot]” and that “the rules didn’t prohibit the manoeuvre”. The published response from the CAA at the time was “just because the rules are silent on the matter doesn’t make it an acceptable practice”.
TAIC concluded that the situation regarding stock-clearing manoeuvres was not clear and it was up to the CAA to provide appropriate guidance as to whether it is a permissible activity.
More importantly, however, the pilot had never been trained for that type of low-level flying. The operator specified that if the stock didn’t move after one low-level pass, the pilots shouldn’t make further attempts. However, every pilot of the operator had a different view as to how the stock clearing should be carried out.
The pilot of the accident aeroplane carried out a modified low approach and overshoot, and instead of climbing out straight ahead after flying along the airstrip he turned at low level in order to make another low-level pass over the airstrip. In the absence of any specific guidelines from the operator or within the civil aviation system regarding stock clearing, the pilot carried out what he may have thought was an acceptable manoeuvre for stock clearing.
Entries in the pilot’s logbook, and the briefing he gave to the passengers about making “close passes” and “tight turns to get back around”, suggested this may have been his usual technique for clearing livestock that had not moved after the first pass.
I think the Australian mustering pilots and probably any crop-duster could have told him that he needed to get some altitude before turning for another pass.
You can read the full report here: Investigation 14-004 Piper PA32-300, ZK-DOJ, Collision with terrain, Near Poolburn Reservoir, Central Otago, 5 August 2014