Aviation safety investigations & reports

Beech 58, VH-AWT, Armidale NSW, 27 March 1982

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The aircraft had been chartered to transport a television film crew to Sydney, departing Armidale at 2130 hours. After rising about 0800 hours the pilot had spent the day working in his garden and watching television. At about 1600 hours he went to the airport to prepare the aircraft for the flight to Sydney and to submit a flight plan. He returned home at 1745 hours for a meal and planned to proceed to the airport at 2045 hours. Shortly afterwards he received a telephone call from another client requesting a charter flight to Sydney. He agreed to carry out the additional flight and DEPARTURE was made from Armidale at 1830 hours, with the return flight arriving from Sydney at 2130 hours. After landing the pilot refuelled the aircraft and waited at the airport for the film crew, who were delayed and finally arrived at about 2310 hours. The film crew requested that an additional passenger be flown to Sydney and after calculating the weight of the baggage the pilot agreed to the carriage of that passenger. The aircraft was loaded, with the front seat beside the pilot being occupied by Mr Phillips. The other three passengers were seated in the rear passenger area, one facing aft while the other two faced forward. All passengers fastened their seat belts, although Mr Phillips used only the lap portion of the lap/sash belt which was provided for the front seat passenger. After both engines were started, the aircraft was taxiied to the threshold of runway 23 where the engine checks were completed. The take-off run was commenced and a witness reported that the aircraft became airborne after a ground roll of about 1100 metres and then commenced a shallow climb.It then disappeared from sight. It was established the aircraft entered a descent and shortly afterwards it collided with a number trees in an apple orchard before impacting the ground about 1400 metres beyond the point where it became airborne. Subsequent investigation did not find any fault with the aircraft or its systems that would have contributed to the accident. At the time of the accident the wind was calm, the night was dark with no moon light. Once the aircraft passed the end of the runway no ground lights would have been visible to the pilot. These conditions may cause a pilot to experience sensory illusions; so he must rely solely on the flight instruments in order to establish and maintain correct aircraft attitude. Whether the pilot of VH-AWT was affected by such illusions on the particular occasion could not be positively determined. The pilot selected the initial climb attitude of the aircraft by referring to the runway lights. This technique is considered less than optimum, for the recommended technique requires reference to the flight instruments for attitude selection and maintenance. Reliance upon reference to runway lights during the initial climb may result in a lower than desired climb attitude where a runway slopes down in the direction of take-off. This condition exists on runway 23 at Armidale. ((1))

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General details
Date: 27 March 1982   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: N/A    
Location: Armidale    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 13 March 1984   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Beech Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model 58  
Aircraft registration VH-AWT  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Armidale NSW  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Sydney NSW  
Last update 13 May 2014