Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna 172-N, VH-SLX, Cravens Peak Station (145km SSW of Boulia) QLD, 7 April 1989

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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During the day the pilot, who was at Boulia, had arranged to conduct a charter flight from Bedourie to Boulia. He had earlier been seen drinking beer with a friend in a hotel, but he then conducted the outward leg of the flight, arriving at Bedourie at about 1830 hours. The passengers had expected to make the flight to Boulia the next day, but the pilot was insistent that the flight would take place that evening. The reason for the pilot's decision was not known, however, Civil Aviation Regulations prohibit charter passenger operations at night in single engine aircraft. The aircraft departed at last light. At about 2045 hours an aircraft was heard overhead Cravens Peak Station, which is 115 kilometres west of the track between Bedourie and Boulia. Station lighting was turned on, and the strip was illuminated with vehicle headlights. The aircraft did not have any navigation lights illuminated and was seen to make several low passes before it then disappeared. At about 2130 hours the aircraft reappeared at Cravens Peak, and was seen flying very low, parallel to the strip. The strip was again illuminated with vehicle headlights, but the aircraft disappeared from view in a southerly direction and did not reappear. At the time, a line of active thunderstorms was visible to the north of Cravens Peak, and there was a 25 to 30 knot easterly wind at ground level. Early the next morning, the aircraft wreckage was discovered 730 metres south-south-west of the homestead. It had struck the ground during a shallow descending turn to the right. The sounds of the impact were not heard by station residents, probably due the noise of wind. The reason for the gross navigational error could not be established, but the pilot was subsequently found to have a high blood alcohol reading, which could have significantly impaired his ability to conduct the flight safely. There were no aircraft defects found which may have contributed to the development of the accident.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 07 April 1989   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2130    
Location: Cravens Peak Station (145km SSW of Boulia)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 16 February 1990   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-SLX  
Serial number 17267635  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Bedourie QLD  
Departure time 1900  
Destination Boulia QLD