Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna 210-N, VH-XAG, Lake Eyre North, 53 km north-west Muloorina station SA, 29 July 1990

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The aircraft was conducting a scenic flight over an area of Lake Eyre North, where the surface of the lake is 30-40 feet below sea level. Weather conditions were fine. High cloud and calm conditions resulted in a glassy lake surface with diminished horizon definition. Passengers on the flight reported that the pilot had mentioned the possibility of flying below sea level, and later when approaching the lake he remarked that it would be "tricky" without an horizon. He gave no indication that the aircraft was experiencing any difficulties which would affect its ability to maintain flight. The aircraft contacted the lake in a near level attitude, and in cruise configuration. The nearest landfall was twelve kilometres distant, and after several hours the passengers were reached and assisted by a rescue party. Rescue attempts by helicopters were abandoned when unable to safely hover due to the illusory effects created by the glassy surface. The passengers had not been provided with the required flotation safety equipment for this particular flight.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 29 July 1990   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1050    
Location   (show map): Lake Eyre North, 53 km north-west Muloorina station    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 17 September 1991   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 210  
Aircraft registration VH-XAG  
Serial number 21063456  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Innamincka SA  
Departure time 0908  
Destination William Creek SA