Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper PA25-235/A1, VH-FAW, 7 km W of Inverleigh VIC, 27 October 1988

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The company chief pilot, who holds an Agricultural 1 Rating, accompanied the pilot on the ferry flight. They surveyed the paddocks to be sprayed from the air before landing at a nearby agricultural strip where they discussed the order of work with the farmer and studied a local map. The pilot prepared a diagram of the paddocks and plotted wires and obstacles. The aircraft was then loaded with liquid chemicals and the pilot sprayed the first paddock while the chief pilot remained at the airstrip. Weather conditions were a light south westerly wind, with excellent visibility. After spraying the first paddock, the aircraft was reloaded. The pilot circled the second paddock before flying a spray run in a southerly direction between a highway and a railway line. During the run the pilot glanced at the boom pressure gauge and adjusted the setting. As he approached the railway line he commenced a pull-up during which the undercarriage struck a railways communications wire. The wire was about 4 metres above the ground and ran parallel to and just north of the railway line. Realizing that the aircraft had caught a wire, the pilot commenced a gentle, left turn starting at about 50 feet above the ground with the intention of landing as soon as possible in a safe area. During the turn, because of the drag of the wire, the aircraft vibrated and lost airspeed, despite the application of full power. After the turn the aircraft stalled from about 20 feet with wings level. The aircraft struck the ground in a slightly nose-low attitude and slid for 42 metres before coming to rest south of the railway line. Approximately 140 metres of wire was found trailing from part of the spray boom which had detached from the left wing and was located 5 metres behind the aircraft. The communication wires about 10 metres north of the railway tracks were the only significant obstruction near the crop. The steel poles supporting the wires were spaced reasonably close but the spray run was midspan such that the poles did not assist depth perception. The pilot could see the wires ahead at the end of the run. The wires were too low for the aircraft to fly beneath. It was the pilot's intention to fly over the wires. The pull-up was late and too shallow. The pilot had been given 17 hours flight training under close supervision by his employer immediately before commencing operational flying. At the time of the accident he was flying in a suitable area for an Agricultural 2 rated pilot with low experience.

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General details
Date: 27 October 1988   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 915    
Location: 7 km W of Inverleigh    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Wirestrike  
Release date: 07 March 1989   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-25  
Aircraft registration VH-FAW  
Serial number 25-3148  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point 14 km W of Inverleigh VIC  
Departure time 0905  
Destination 14 km W of Inverleigh VIC  
Last update 13 May 2014