Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fairchild Industries Inc SA227-AC, VH-NEJ, Tamworth, NSW 16 September 1995

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The flight was the second Metro III type-conversion training flight for the co-pilot. Earlier that night, he had completed a 48-minute flight.

During the briefing prior to the second flight, the check-and-training pilot indicated that he would give the co-pilot a V1 cut during the takeoff. The co-pilot questioned the legality of conducting the procedure at night. The check-and-training pilot indicated that it was not illegal because the company operations manual had been amended to permit the procedure. The crew then proceeded to brief the instrument approach which was to be flown following the V1 cut. There was no detailed discussion concerning the technique for flying a V1 cut.

The co-pilot conducted the takeoff. Four seconds after the aircraft became airborne, the check-and-training pilot retarded the left engine power lever to flight-idle. The landing gear was selected up 11 seconds later. After a further 20 seconds, the aircraft struck the crown of a tree and then the ground about 350 m beyond the upwind end of the runway and 210 m left of the extended centreline. It caught fire and was destroyed. The co-pilot and another trainee on board the aircraft were killed while the check-and-training pilot received serious injuries.

The investigation found that the performance of the aircraft was adversely affected by:

  • the control inputs of the co-pilot; and
  • the period the landing gear remained extended after the simulated engine failure.

The check-and-training pilot had flown night V1 cut procedures in a Metro III flight simulator, but had not flown the procedure in the aircraft at night. He did not terminate the exercise, despite indications that the aircraft was not maintaining V2 and that it was descending. There were few external visual cues available to the crew in the prevailing dark-night conditions. This affected their ability to maintain awareness of the aircraft's position and performance as the flight progressed.

A number of organisational factors were identified which influenced the aviation environment in which the flight operated. These included, on the part of the operating company:

  • an inadequate Metro III endorsement training syllabus in the company operations manual;
  • inadequate assessment of the risks involved in night V1 cuts; and
  • assigning the check-and-training pilot a task for which he did not possess adequate experience, knowledge, or skills.

Organisational factors involving the regulator included:

  • a lack of enabling legislation prohibiting low-level night asymmetric operations;
  • deficient requirements for co-pilot conversion training;
  • inadequate advice given to the operator concerning night asymmetric operations and the carriage of additional trainees on training flights;
  • deficient training and approval process for check-and-training pilots; and
  • insufficient quality control of the company operations manual.

The investigation also determined that there was incomplete understanding within the company, the regulating authority, and some sections of the aviation industry of the possible effects of engine flight-idle torque on aircraft performance. Inadequate information on the matter in the aircraft flight manual contributed to this.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 456KB]
General details
Date: 16 September 1995   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1957 EST    
Location   (show map): 3 km ESE Tamworth Aero.    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 25 June 1997   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Industries Inc  
Aircraft model SA227  
Aircraft registration VH-NEJ  
Serial number AC-629B  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Tamworth, NSW  
Departure time 1956 hours EST  
Destination Tamworth, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command ATPL 1393 4132
Co-Pilot/1st Officer 1.1 1317.1
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 2 0 0 2
Serious: 1 0 0 1
Total: 3 0 0 3
Last update 13 May 2014