Aviation safety investigations & reports

Aero Engine Service Ltd Air Tourer Super 150, VH-AHW, Grafton NSW, 3 September 1989

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot had been in the habit of flying about twice per month for a number of years. Each flight was about 30 minutes long and usually involved aerobatic flying. On this occasion the aircraft was observed conducting loops and a barrel roll in the normal area above 3000 feet above sea level. The aircraft later joined the circuit for a landing. While on the crosswind leg the aircraft continued to descend until, at about 700 feet above ground level, the aircraft entered a gentle left turn. The nose dropped during the turn until the aircraft was descending at an angle of about 45`. When the aircraft was about 100 feet above the river the angle increased to about 85` nose down. No changes in engine power were heard during this time. The aircraft struck the Clarence River about 40 metres from the shore at an estimated speed of 180 knots. No evidence of pre-existing defects in the control circuits was found, however, the wings had been torn off on impact and large sections of the control circuits were not recovered. Witnesses reported that nothing was observed to fall off the aircraft and no part of the aircraft was flapping during the descent. Pathological examination concluded that the pilot had died as a result of myocardial ischaemia (lack of blood supply to the heart). The pilot had been hospitalised some years earlier due to a heart attack. This had not been reported to the medical examiner during subsequent licence medical examinations. Hence, as the required tests had not been conducted during licence renewal, it was not possible to determine whether the pilot may have been able to hold a licence at the time of the accident.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 03 September 1989   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1630    
Location: Grafton    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 24 April 1990   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aero Engine Service Ltd  
Aircraft model 150  
Aircraft registration VH-AHW  
Serial number A543  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point South Grafton Airstrip NSW  
Departure time 1615  
Destination South Grafton Airstrip NSW