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The ATSB has found that the fatal accident at Camden aerodrome on 7 February last year was the result of a simulated engine failure during a flight test at night that was initiated at too low a height to ensure safety.

The Beech Duchess twin engine aircraft, VH-JWX, crashed shortly after takeoff, seriously injuring the trainee pilot and fatally injuring the pilot in command who was an Approved Testing Officer (ATO) authorised by the regulator.

The aircraft was recovering after the engine failure simulation when the right wingtip collided with a tree. Shortly after, the aircraft impacted the ground.

While the cabin area remained intact during the accident sequence, an intense fire started and both occupants were seriously burnt as they escaped and the ATO did not survive his injuries.

The engine-failure simulation was initiated from a point where the crew could not be confident that they would clear all obstacles. As it was dark, they could not see any obstacles that needed avoiding.

Guidance was provided in aeronautical information publications recommending against low-level asymmetric operations at night below 1500 feet, however such operations were not prohibited.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has advised ATSB investigators that new regulations are presently being drafted which will enhance the consistency of flight test operations for the future.

ATSB report Aviation Safety Investigation Report 200300224 can be downloaded from the website, or obtained from the ATSB by telephoning 1800 020 616.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 29 January 2014