Robinson R44 Helicopter Crash in Australia

Robinson R44 

The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB), the equivalent of our National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), is investigating the crash of a Robinson R44 helicopter on February 4, 2012 which killed cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight. According to the ATSB preliminary report the crash occurred in eastern Australia shortly after take-off from Jaspers Brush, near Nowra, which is 97 miles north of Sydney.

Published news reports indicated both men were working together on a documentary for National Geographic. Both men specialized in underwater documentary specialists. Mike deGruy, lived in Santa Barbara, California, was an Emmy award winning cinematographer. Andrew Wight, of Melbourne, is best known for his successful 3D movie "Sanctum." which was a huge success in Australia.

According to the ATSB the helicopter shortly after take-off the helicopter appears to have experienced a loss of control from a hover position and thereafter crashed into terrain. Our research shows that there have been nearly 25 airworthiness directives issued concerning the R44 helicopter, including the most recent issued last year concerning problems with the main rotor blade. Also, several accidents, including one R44 crash in Australia less than a year ago were caused by a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). This aerodynamic phenomenon is common in smaller helicopters and our analysis of accident records reveals that the R44 is particularly susceptible to loss of helicopter control due to LTE.