Recommended Sponsor - Buy Original Artwork Directly from the Artist

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority

Preflight checks are advised for helicopters operating with monsoon buckets, says the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is urging the helicopter sector to read the latest Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report released today(external link).

The TAIC report(external link) states, on 17 February 2019, that an Airbus Helicopter was forced to land in Wakefield, Nelson, after the lifting line of the IMS Cloudburst monsoon bucket contacted the tail rotor; resulting in the failure of the tail rotor and drive shaft. The pilot, who had been helping to fight a fire, walked away with an injured ankle.

The report stated that the monsoon bucket, which was an earlier model, had hook and loop fasteners which “had the potential to come undone during operations”.

CAA Aviation Safety Deputy Chief Executive Dean Winter said that it was pleasing to see that later models of the bucket have been improved and that the manufacturer had reported it had acted on TAIC’s recommendations.

Through collaboration with the helicopter sector, the CAA has identified that over the past 20 years, helicopter accidents involving external load operations are the fifth highest category of helicopter accident types.

“The CAA’s helicopter strategy is aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries in the sector. We know flying helicopters comes with some risk and remains a critical safety focus area,” said Mr Winter.

In the past 18 months, the CAA had undertaken a number of proactive steps to improve safety in regard to these types of external load incidents. “We approached the manufacturer, after being made aware of other similar in-flight occurrences, where the folding ring on certain Cloudburst fire buckets had detached from the bucket’s Velcro hook and loop fasteners.”

The CAA issued a Continuing Airworthiness Notice in April 2020 to ensure operators and those responsible for maintenance were aware of important safety information provided by the monsoon bucket manufacturer.

In 2019, the CAA also delivered four Ropes and Strops workshops to improve knowledge about how equipment, such as monsoon buckets, should be checked, attached, and loaded onto a helicopter. An advisory circular is being drafted to provide additional information and guidance regarding Helicopter External Load Operations.