Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper PA36-285 Pawnee Brave, VH-SEJ, Harcourt (125 km SSW of Rockhampton) QLD, 26 January 1990

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot had almost completed spraying herbicide on a field of cotton which was bordered in part by the Dawson River and its associated tree line. The pilot reported that he was making a right turn over the river, which is a conglomerate of channels and gullies, to position the aircraft for a cleanup run. During the turn, he was trying to assess whether a single run would suffice, or if two runs would be required to cover the curved northern boundary of the paddock. The pilot stated that he then suddenly became aware of foliage directly in front of him. The aircraft struck the branches of a large gum tree, lost a 2.5 metre section of right wing, dived into the ground, and came to rest inverted 75 metres from initial impact. There was no fire despite both wing tanks being ruptured. The battery was thrown from the aircraft at initial ground impact. The wing tanks were foam filled, which reduced fuel spillage when the tanks were ruptured, and prevented fuel spraying over the wreckage whilst the aircraft was breaking up. The pilot was wearing protective clothing including a helmet, overalls and boots. The safety harness was in good condition and did not fail. The cockpit remained intact despite complete destruction of the fuselage, and consequently the pilot was protected from sustaining other than minor injuries and was able to extricate himself from the wreckage.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 26 January 1990   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 845    
Location: Harcourt (125 km SSW of Rockhampton)    
State: Queensland    
Release date: 20 April 1990   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-36  
Aircraft registration VH-SEJ  
Serial number 36-7560051  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point North Moura QLD  
Departure time 0735  
Destination North Moura QLD