Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna 404, VH-ARQ, Near Mitta Mitta VIC, 6 October 1989

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The flight to Melbourne was planned via Canberra Corryong and Eildon Weir with a cruising level of 8000 feet. The weather forecast for the route included scattered cumulus cloud to 10000 feet and areas of broken strato-cumulus cloud from 3000 to 7000 feet. The forecast freezing level was 6500 feet. The aircraft was not equipped with wing or propeller deicing systems but had the standard pitot heater as well as a stall warning vane heater. The flight at an indicated airspeed of 150 knots proceeded uneventfully apart from some ice buildup on the windscreen and wings which seemed to clear when the aircraft exited from cloud. However shortly after passing Corryong the pilot felt a vibration through the aircraft. The auto-pilot was disengaged but the vibrations rapidly worsened and the aircraft suddenly rolled and began to lose height. At this stage the airspeed was still indicating 150 knots and the aircraft was turning right in a right wing low attitude. The pilot recalled applying left rudder and moving the yoke forward and sensing that the airspeed which was then indicating zero was increasing. Control of the aircraft was regained at about 5500 feet (Lowest Safe Altitude for the sector was 6700 feet). The pilot found later that the pitot heat circuit breaker had popped thus deactivating the pitot heater. This would have allowed the pitot head to become iced up and cause false airspeed indications. It was not until after the incident that the pilot thought to look at the No 2 Air Speed Indicator (ASI) on the right instrument panel. This instrument which operates independently of the ASI on the left instrument panel was operating normally. Normal operation of the pilot's ASI did not return until the aircraft was on descent to Melbourne.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 06 October 1989   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1    
Location: Near Mitta Mitta    
State: Victoria    
Release date: 31 August 1990   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 404  
Aircraft registration VH-ARQ  
Serial number 4040219  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney NSW  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Melbourne VIC