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Analysis

Summary

The pilot had received an accurate appreciation of the weather conditions in the vicinity of Wagga Wagga prior to departing Albury. At that stage it would have been apparent that low cloud and poor visibility were likely to affect the aircraft's arrival. Under such conditions it would not have been possible to land from the GPS arrival procedure.

As the reported cloud base and visibility were both below the minimum criteria, it is difficult to rationalise the pilot's transmission that, according to the latest weather report, he would be visual at the minimum descent altitude. This statement suggests that the pilot had already made the decision to continue his descent below the minimum altitude for the procedure and to attempt to establish visual reference for landing.

Based on the report of broken low cloud in the vicinity of the aerodrome, the pilot would have needed to descend to 1,324 ft above mean sea level to establish the aircraft clear of cloud. This is within 50 ft of the last altitude recorded on the GPS receiver.

Due to the difference between the actual and forecast QNH, the left altimeter would over-read by approximately 150 ft. At the time of the occurrence an otherwise correctly functioning instrument would have indicated an altitude of approximately 1,400 ft.

The pilot had probably set the right altimeter to the local QNH prior to departing Albury. As this setting also corresponded to the actual QNH at Wagga Wagga, that instrument would have provided the more accurate indication of the aircraft's operating altitude. However, because of its location on the co-pilot's instrument panel, it is unlikely that the pilot would have included that altimeter in his basic instrument scan.

It was not possible to assess the extent to which illicit drugs may have influenced the pilot's performance during the flight and affected his ability to safely operate the aircraft.

 
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