Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna 172, VH-MWS, 64km North West of Port Macquarie NSW, 23 April 1987

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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Prior to commencing the flight the pilot received a briefing on the meteorological situation. This briefing indicated that the flight under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) would not be possible over the route and that the conditions were unlikely to improve during the day. The pilot apparently decided to check the weather situation for himself and submitted a flight plan for a flight to Port Macquarie. The plan indicated that the flight would comply with VFR procedures. The aircraft departed Tamworth but failed to arrive at the destination before the expiry of the nominated Search and Rescue time (SARTIME). A land and air search was commenced, although the latter was initially hampered by poor weather conditions. No trace of the aircraft was found and the search was suspended after five days. Two days later the wreckage was located by an aircraft conducting a private search. The aircraft had flown into tall trees on the top of a 3500 feet high ridge line. It had been torn apart by the impact forces and the wreckage was spread over a distance of some 90 metres beyond the initial impact point. The investigation did not reveal any pre-impact defect with the aircraft or its systems which might have contributed to the accident. An analysis of the weather conditions in the vicinity indicated that the accident site was most likely covered with cloud. The pilot was probably flying in conditions of reduced forward visibility when the aircraft collided with the trees.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 23 April 1987   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1221    
Location: 64km North West of Port Macquarie    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 21 September 1987   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172  
Aircraft registration VH-MWS  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Tamworth NSW  
Departure time 1221  
Destination Port Macquarie NSW