ATSB releases Sunshine Coast hinterland Cessna 150 aerobatics accident preliminary report

Accident site

Key points:

  • Preliminary report details factual information from the investigation’s early evidence collection phase;
  • Aircraft had significant forward speed at impact, no evidence pre-existing defects to airframe and engine found;
  • Investigation is on-going.


The ATSB has released a preliminary report from its on-going investigation into a fatal accident involving a Cessna 150 light aircraft during aerobatic flight training near Peachester, South East Queensland, on 23 June 2021.

The report, which details factual information from the investigation’s early evidence collection phase, notes the Cessna A150M Aerobat had departed Sunshine Coast Airport with an instructor and student aerobatic pilot on board with the intention of conducting spin recovery training. The aircraft arrived overhead the locality of Peachester, the area intended to conduct aerobatics, about 20 minutes later.

Air traffic control radar data from the last 90 seconds of the aircraft’s flight shows the aircraft turned left and decelerated while maintaining an altitude of 6,000 feet, before beginning to descend rapidly. Shortly after it impacted a dense stand of trees.

The aircraft was destroyed and the two occupants were fatally injured.

ATSB transport safety investigators’ examination of the wreckage and accident site determined the aircraft was intact prior to the collision.

Calculations of tree impact points along a 50 metre wreckage trail indicated the final flight path was a descent of about 13°. The throttle setting was at idle, and propeller rotational damage signatures were minimal, indicating a low power setting.

“The disruption to the aircraft and foliage, coupled with the length of the wreckage trail, indicated that the aircraft had significant forward speed at impact,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Dr Mike Walker said.

No evidence was found of pre-impact defects with the flight controls or aircraft structure, and external examination revealed no obvious defects with the engine.

Dr Walker noted the preliminary report does not include any safety findings or analysis, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report.

“As the investigation continues, the ATSB will interview parties involved with the aircraft’s operation, further analyse the radar data, examine the pilots’ qualifications, experience and medical histories, and review aircraft records,” he said.

“Spin training requirements and practices will also be assessed.”

A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation.

“However, should a critical safety issue be identified at any time during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” Dr Walker concluded.

Read the report: AO-2021-025: Collision with terrain involving Cessna A150M, VH-CYO, 5 km west-south-west of Peachester, Queensland, on 23 June 2021. 

Last update 02 September 2021

Preliminary report

Collision with terrain involving Cessna A150M, VH-CYO 5 km west-south-west of Peachester, Queensland, on 23 June 2021