Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna A188B-A1, VH-EUU, 15 km W Innisfail QLD, 20 October 1987

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot was conducting aerial spraying on a banana plantation in hilly country. While flying a clean-up run along one side of a section of the plantation, the aircraft struck a set of powerlines which ran diagonally across its flight path. The wires became entangled in the main landing gear and were dragged 160 metres before the aircraft impacted the ground and caught fire. The cockpit area was burnt out and the engine compartment severely damaged by the fire. The engine and remaining aircraft structure and components were examined and, not withstanding the severe heat damage to some engine components/accessories, no abnormality was found. The pilot, who suffered serious burns, told a friend a short time after the accident that he was distracted by a sprinkler pole and had forgotten about the wires. In hospital two days later, the pilot reportedly spoke of experiencing elevator control problems shortly before hitting the wires. When he was able to be interviewed, some seven weeks after the accident, the pilot maintained that he felt the engine lose power as he was aligning the aircraft for the run and that the aircraft descended into the wires as a result. The nature and extent of the pilot's injuries indicated that trauma induced amnesia was unlikely to have caused his conflicting accounts of the accident. There are, however, unconscious pyschological mechanisms which can explain these conflictions. The banana plants were served by a large number of sprinkler poles of narrow gauge water pipes which protruded above the plant tops. Seeing these would have required considerable attention from the pilot. The power poles supporting the wires the aircraft struck were well outside the pilot's forward field of view and the wires themselves would have been difficult to see against the background of dark vegetation. However, the weight of human behavioural evidence leads to the conclusion that the pilot was probably distracted and forgot about the wires. The pilot reported that he was unable to open the left cockpit door by the normal or emergency method and had to egress through the right door where the fire was more intense. Both cockpit doors were open when the wreckage was examined. No reason was found which would have prevented the emergency exit from operating normally.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 24KB]
General details
Date: 20 October 1987   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 840    
Location: 15 km W Innisfail    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Wirestrike  
Release date: 24 August 1988   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 188  
Aircraft registration VH-EUU  
Serial number 18801087  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Innisfail QLD  
Departure time 0800  
Destination Innisfail QLD