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Analysis

Summary

Manoeuvring the aircraft to commence the next swath run was a high workload period for the pilot, requiring precise flying to position the aircraft accurately in both lateral and vertical planes. As the pilot was lining the aircraft up to conduct a swath run in a westerly direction in the late afternoon, the sunlight coming through the windscreen would have created glare in the pilot's field of vision, partly obscuring the tree. When using the Satloc system's light bar indicator to align the aircraft with the line of the next swath run, the pilot's vision would have been focussed, for at least some of the time, on the light bar. When the pilot's eyes were focussed on the light bar, more distant objects, such as the tree, would not have been in focus and would therefore have been harder to see. Although the pilot must have been aware of the tree's presence, the high workload, the glare from the setting sun and the pilot focussing on the light bar indicator all contributed to the pilot temporarily being unaware that the tree infringed his intended flightpath.

The damage to the left wing when it struck the tree would have resulted in a loss of lift and an increase in drag from this wing. This would have caused the aircraft to roll rapidly to the left and, as the ailerons had jammed, the pilot would have been unable to stop the roll. Thus, after impact with the tree, the aircraft was most likely uncontrollable.

When the cockpit truss was tom from the aircraft, the space remaining between the ground and the pilot's seat was too small for the accident to have been survivable.

 
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