Keep your control during a forced landing

The ATSB’s final report into the wirestrike and collision with terrain of a Cessna 172RG at Parafield Airport, South Australia, is an important reminder for pilots to fly in a controlled manner to increase the likelihood of a successful forced landing.

Cessna aircraft wirestrike and collision with terrain at Parafield Airport, South Australia

On 3 July 2018, the Cessna VH-LCZ was on its final descent for landing. As the aircraft passed through 450 ft, its propeller speed reduced to 1,300 rpm. The pilot turned on the carburettor heat and switched the fuel tank selection from BOTH to LEFT. However, the engine did not respond.

Realising that the aircraft could not maintain enough altitude to reach the runway, the pilot started preparing for a forced landing. The pilot turned towards an unlit area ahead of the aircraft, which he thought was an open space, and pitched the nose of the aircraft down to achieve the optimum glide speed.

As he descended, the pilot heard the sounds of the fuselage striking treetops. The aircraft’s nose wheel then struck a power line and it collided with terrain. The pilot received minor injuries.

The ATSB found that the lack of application of carburettor heat throughout the flight, in conjunction with the weather conditions, which were conducive to severe carburettor icing at descent power, made it likely that the engine failed due to carburettor icing.

When faced with conducting a forced landing, flying in a controlled manner-that is wings level and the aircraft positioned to achieve the optimum glide speed- can improve your chances of surviving a forced landing.

The ATSB reminds pilots to maintain awareness of the weather conditions that are conducive to carburettor ice formation and to closely monitor their aircraft performance during times when the risk exists.

When faced with conducting a forced landing, flying in a controlled manner – wings level and the aircraft positioned to achieve the optimum glide speed – can improve the chances of surviving a forced landing.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s carburettor icing probability chart is a useful tool to help determine your icing risk.

Read the final report, AO-2018-050: Wirestrike and collision with terrain involving Cessna 172RG, VH-LCZ, Parafield Airport, South Australia, on 3 July 2018

Last update 17 December 2018