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Summary

Summary

On the morning of the accident, the pilot reported for duty between 0630 and 0645 in order to have his aircraft prepared by 0700 for the day's task. The aircraft had been refuelled the night before, as was the company standard practice. After loading the freight onto the aircraft, he departed Wagga for Jerilderie at 0804 with an estimate for Jerilderie of 0845. The aircraft had full fuel and 115 kg of freight. The flight was a standard company "Run 46". The flight plan indicated that the flight was to be conducted in the IFR category at 4,000 ft with a minimum safe altitude for the route to be flown of 3,300 ft.

At 0838 the pilot contacted Melbourne Flight Service (FS) and advised that he was 15 miles east of Jerilderie and would commence descent in one minute. FS responded that there was no reported IFR traffic. There was nothing further heard from the pilot after he acknowledged this transmission.

An eyewitness working near the maintenance shed on the property Bungoona, under the flight path and north of the accident site, observed the aircraft at an estimated altitude of 100 m (328 ft). The witness described the weather conditions as misty rain, like a very thick fog or low cloud. This observation is consistent with other witnesses in the vicinity of the accident site who heard but did not see the aircraft. It was observed to bank to the left and the witness lost sight of it as it passed behind the shed. He heard an explosion, ran to the other side of the shed and saw a ball of smoke. The time of the aircraft impact was approximately 0843.

Examination of the accident site and wreckage found that the aircraft had initially struck a small tree, before impacting the ground in a left turn with 13 degrees angle of bank and 52 degrees nose down. The aircraft broke up initiating a fire that consumed the fuel and much of the wreckage and freight. The centerline of the wreckage splay was 061 degrees magnetic and the wreckage trail was approximately 60 m in length, starting from the impact crater.

Examination of the wreckage did not find any pre-existing defects or malfunctions that would have precluded other than normal operation. The maintenance records showed that the aircraft had completed periodic maintenance on 9 June 1997. There were no outstanding maintenance action items at the time of the accident. The aircraft was due to undergo scheduled maintenance later in the week of the accident. Impact marks on the propeller and the nature of the blade damage indicated that the engine was operating under power at impact.

The pilot was the holder of a Commercial Pilots Licence and he was appropriately qualified for the flight. He was issued with an initial instrument rating on 15 December 1996 for single engine aircraft. He subsequently gained a Multi Engine Command Instrument Rating on 17 June 1997. He had accrued approximately 563 hours total flight time, with approximately 58 hours flight time using instruments as a sole reference. This information was obtained from the company computer "Duty Flight Times" log, as the pilot's logbook was destroyed in the accident. There were no entries for hours flown since 17 August 1997.

The specialist Bureau of Meteorology report, advised that conditions at the time of the accident were a cold front passing through the Deniliquin/Jerilderie district. The frontal change had passed through Jerilderie at 0843 hours EST and would have been approaching the accident site. The wind was 270 degrees magnetic, 15 gusting to 25 knots with some localised moderate turbulence associated with the passage of the change. The visibility was 4,000 m reducing to 2,000 m with moderate showers and light rain. The temperature was 8 degrees C and the barometric pressure was 1020 hPa.

The calculated aircraft weight at take-off, was 1477 kg with a maximum allowable weight of 1724 kg. The aircraft was within the weight and centre of gravity limits at the time of the accident.

Jerilderie aerodrome does not have a published instrument approach procedure. If the pilot was unable to make an approach in visual conditions, the company policy was for the pilot to proceed to Deniliquin.

 
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