Aviation safety investigations & reports

Airtractor AT 301, VH-FRC, "Whitewoods", 65 km East Walgett NSW, 20 February 1986

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot was making night spraying runs over a cotton crop. During the third run at about 50 feet above ground level, the engine suddenly lost all power. The pilot attempted a landing at slow speed in a flooded cotton field. Almost immediately after touchdown, the aircraft nosed over and sank into the soft muddy surface. The pilot was able to extricate himself from the partly water-filled cockpit. The subsequent examination of the engine revealed massive internal damage. It was likely that one connecting rod had failed, and this led to similar failures in three other cylinders. The reason for the initial failure was not determined. The pilot had selected the most suitable area available for the forced landing. When the aircraft overturned, the fibreglass roof of the cockpit failed, and cut into the top of the pilot's helmet. Had the pilot not been wearing this protection, it was likely he would have suffered head injuries and probably drowned.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 20 February 1986   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1935 aprx    
Location: "Whitewoods", 65 km East Walgett    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 03 October 1986   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Air Tractor Inc  
Aircraft model AT301  
Aircraft registration VH-FRC  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point "Whitewoods" NSW  
Departure time 1935 aprx  
Destination "Whitewoods" NSW