A well-known pilot who died when his kit helicopter crashed in the North West in 2015 was using the machine for mustering when it was designed for recreational use only, an Air Transport Safety Bureau investigation has found. Ross McDowell, 62, was flying from Indee Station to Roy Hill Station in the Pilbara to round-up cattle when the helicopter he had assembled just weeks earlier disintegrated mid-air. A statement released by Mr McDowell’s family said they welcomed the finalisation of the ATSB report, as it allowed progression to a Coroner’s investigation, which they hoped would prevent further deaths as a result of kit helicopters. Mr McDowell, known affectionately as Rossy Rotor, was one of the Pilbara’s most experienced helicopter pilots, with more than 30,000 flying hours. He spent more than 30 years flying between stations to muster cattle. The ATSB found a stabiliser had separated from the tail boom as a result of fatigue cracking of the stabiliser mount. It was the second fatal accident in Australia involving in-flight stabiliser separation on a Cicare CH-7B. Following the first fatality in Queensland in 2014, the manufacturer released a mandatory service bulletin requiring inspection of the stabiliser assembly but it did not include an initial or recurrent time interval for that check. “This potentially reduced the opportunity to detect the presence of crack initiation and growth in the stabiliser support assembly,” the ATSB crash investigation said. The ATSB found there were notable differences between both aircraft and the accidents were not directly comparable. However, it was established they were fitted with an external storage pod, likely without the appropriate engineering assessment to ensure no adverse effects on performance, handling and structure.