ATSB Urges Pilots to Fully Disclose Medical Info

The ATSB urges pilots to monitor changes in their health and lifestyle and properly declare all medical information during aviation medical examinations, following an investigation into a JetRanger helicopter accident near Maitland.

On 6 October 2022, the pilot of a Bell 206B JetRanger left Casino in northern New South Wales for a solo ferry flight to Warnervale on the Central Coast.

While transiting the Williamtown military restricted area via the inland visual flight rules lane, the helicopter turned around and deviated outside the lane, and the pilot did not respond to radio calls from air traffic control.

The helicopter then flew south, exiting the restricted area about 500 ft above ground level.

Witnesses then observed the helicopter heading towards the Hunter River, descend slightly and possibly began to turn, before rolling markedly and descending rapidly. The helicopter collided with the riverbank and was destroyed, and the pilot was fatally injured.

The ATSB's investigation found it was likely the pilot experienced an incapacitating event prior to the accident.

"While it was not possible to forensically determine if the pilot experienced a heart attack, it remained a significant risk factor," ATSB Director Transport Safety Kerri Hughes said.

A cardiology review undertaken less than 12 months before the accident found only minor coronary artery disease in the pilot. However, the pilot's post-mortem showed they had severe coronary atherosclerosis within all 3 major coronary arteries, with at least 80% blockage observed within each artery.

"This accident reinforces to pilots the importance of remaining aware of any health and lifestyle changes, and how these may affect your fitness to fly."

While not determined to have contributed to the accident, the ATSB also found the pilot had not declared a significant surgery during their most recent aviation medical examination, nor the use of numerous prescribed, and non-prescribed drugs.

"Pilots are responsible for declaring their full medical history and medication use at the time of an aviation medical examination, so CASA and your designated aviation medical examiner can assess suitability for flying," Ms Hughes stressed.

"Don't fly if feeling unwell and manage chronic conditions in association with your DAME. They are best placed to balance your personal medical risks against those of aviation safety."

The report also notes at least one of the undeclared non-permitted medications being used by the pilot had an alternative, which would have allowed the pilot to continue flying.

"Alternative medication may be available to medications that are incompatible with flying," Ms Hughes said.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.