Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper PA31 Navajo, VH-CLU, Dysart QLD, 3 March 1982

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The aircraft was being operated on a regular freight carrying run between Dysart and Rockhampton. On the evening preceding the accident, the aircraft departed Dysart at 2045 hours, arriving at Rockhampton at 2139 hours. At 0222 hours on the following morning the pilot telephoned Brisbane Flight Service Centre to obtain an update on the weather for the return flight to Dysart. The forecast indicated that at the time of arrival at Dysart, light rain with 5 oktas of cloud at 700 feet above ground level, could be expected. The pilot nominated Rockhampton as the alternate for Dysart in the event that weather conditions at the latter aerodrome precluded a safe approach and landing. The aircraft was refuelled to give a total fuel endurance of 290 minutes, and after loading departed Rockhampton at 0354 hours. At 0435 hours, the pilot reported that descent had been commenced into Dysart and because of poor reception on High Frequency radio channels further communications with VH-CLU were relayed by another aircraft in the area, VH-EEF on Very High Frequency channels. After communications with VH-CLU, the pilot of VH-EEF advised Brisbane Flight Service Unit (FSU) at 0453 hours, that the runway lighting was not yet displayed. The runway lighting at Dysart was provided by a number of hand-lit flares. The lighting of these flares was carried out by an employee of the company operating VH-CLU, and normally took about ten minutes. On this occasion the employee had overslept and arrived at the aerodrome at about the same time that the aircraft flew overhead. At 0501 hours further attempts by the pilot of VH-EEF and Brisbane FSU to contact VH-CLU were unsuccessful. The wreckage of the aircraft was later located about 800 metres to the west of the aerodrome. The aircraft had struck trees while heading in a direction aligned with runway 14 but displaced to the west of the runway. It had been destroyed as a result of the impact forces. Witnesses reported that when VH-CLU arrived at Dysart it was not raining, however, low cloud was present. The aircraft was observed to complete three orbits of the aerodrome and at times during these orbits it was obscured by cloud. The only fault found with the aircraft during the investigation was a failed fuel pump on the right engine. It was established that the right engine was operating on impact and the failure of the fuel pump is not considered to have substantially affected the operation of the aircraft. The reason the aircraft crashed was not established.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 24KB]
General details
Date: 03 March 1982   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 354    
Location: Dysart    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 10 May 1984   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-31  
Aircraft registration VH-CLU  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Rockhampton QLD  
Departure time 0354  
Destination Dysart QLD  
Last update 13 May 2014