Saturday, August 11, 2018

Kawasaki BK 117B-2, VH-JWB: Fatal accident occurred August 17, 2018 in Ulladulla, Australia

NTSB Identification: WPR18WA230
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Friday, August 17, 2018 in Ulladulla, Australia
Aircraft: Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. BK117 B-2, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On August 17, 2018, about 1400 local time, a Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. BK117 B-2 helicopter, VH-JWB, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during aerial firefighting operations near Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia. The helicopter was operated by Sydney Helicopters. The commercial pilot was fatally injured.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Australia. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of Australia. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
P.O. Box 967, Civic Square
Canberra A.C.T. 2608
Tel: +612 6274 6054
Fax: +612 6274 6434

Allan Tull was killed while assisting with the bushfire effort in Ulladulla.

A Sydney helicopter company is mourning the loss of their close friend and colleague, who was killed in a tragic accident while helping to fight bushfires on the NSW south coast.

Allan Tull, whose helicopter crashed near Ulladulla on Friday afternoon, "was regarded as one of the most experienced fire bombing pilots in the industry," according to Sydney Helicopters chief pilot Mark Harrold.

"Tully had a wealth of aerial firefighting experience and his aviation knowledge and skills were of the highest standard," Mr Harrold said in a statement on Friday evening.

"The aviation firefighting industry is very close and this tragic loss will be felt by all involved along with the broader firefighting community and those he worked alongside in other parts of the world."

A spokesman for NSW Ambulance said it was believed the water bombing helicopter had crashed "into a tree" at Woodstock, near Ulladulla.

Emergency services were called to the corner of Plot Road and Kingiman Road shortly after 2pm on Friday. NSW Police located the aircraft wreckage and found Mr Tull, and sole occupant, deceased at the scene.

The NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed "a serious incident" had occurred "involving one of its contracted water bombing helicopters working on a bush fire in the Shoalhaven area".

All aircraft working on the Kingiman fire were grounded in the wake of the incident and will resume operations tomorrow, a spokesman for the RFS said.

NSW Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant expressed his sympathy to the pilot's loved ones, as well as the emergency services community.

"This a tragic event and my deepest sympathies are with the pilot’s family and friends," he said in a statement.

"My thoughts and prayers are also with the emergency services community, especially the many brigades and units working to contain the Kingiman Fire."

A crime scene has been established to be forensically examined, with a report to be prepared for the coroner. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will also conduct an investigation into the tragedy.

Footage of the scene indicates the cable connecting the helicopter with its water drum was caught in trees.

Fairfax Media understands a mechanism should have released the load when it became stuck.

Firefighters have been battling to get the Kingiman bushfire under control since Wednesday when it threatened homes in the Ulladulla area and destroyed almost a dozen outbuildings.

It's one of three major bushfires on the state's South Coast that have destroyed and threatened properties in the past few days.

The worst damage so far has been from the bushfire further south at Bemboka, near Bega, where the RFS confirmed three homes were lost on Wednesday.

While conditions have eased since Wednesday's emergency, firefighters have been working to contain the fires before gusty winds return to the region on Saturday.

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