A pilot who died in a helicopter crash in the Gascoyne after he passed out mid-flight had a history of falling unconscious that was not accurately detailed in his medical records and allowed him to fly with no restrictions, an investigation has found
Matthew Charles Wilson, 37, who had a history of falling unconscious, crashed his Robinson R44 helicopter on September 3, 2011, 180km south-west of Newman.
The Queenslander's 23-year-old male passenger, an Irish backpacker, was seriously injured and flown to Royal Perth Hospital.
The pair, who took off from an airstrip about 150km south of Newman near the Kumarina Roadhouse, had been conducting a geophysical survey when Mr Wilson suddenly slumped forward in his seat.
The passenger, who was seated behind Mr Wilson, was unable to rouse him and the helicopter crashed into the ground.
After the impact, Mr Wilson regained consciousness, but he died of chest injuries before medical assistance arrived.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation released today found the aircraft's descent could not have been stopped after Mr Wilson become incapacitated.
There was no evidence of mechanical failure.
"Given the reported similarities of the pilot's previous unconsciousness episodes, and that the examination of the wreckage did not identify any abnormality that would have precluded continued normal flight, it was probable that the pilot experienced a rapid onset of unconsciousness that prevented him from controlling and arresting the helicopter's descent before it impacted terrain," an ATSB report on the investigation read.
The investigation found Mr Wilson, who held a Class 1 Aviation Medical Certificate with no restrictions at the time of the crash, had fallen unconscious several times before while not flying.
It found the information in his pilot's aviation medical records did not accurately reflect his medical history and responses he gave to questions on several Civil Aviation Safety Authority medical questionnaires were inconsistently documented.
"If information about the pilot's medical history had been accurately documented and included on the medical questionnaires, further medical tests may have been required and the results used to better assess the pilot's current medical status," the report said.
ATSB has advised CASA of the reporting inconsistencies in the pilot's aviation medical questionnaires.
CASA has confirmed the medical section of the authority's website is being reviewed.