Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper Aircraft Corp PA-36-375, VH-HSQ

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


The pilot of a Piper Pawnee Brave had undertaken to spray an extensive area of land with a herbicide. He commenced operations at around daybreak, departing from his base with a load of chemicals. After that trip, and for the rest of the day, he operated from an airstrip on a property closer to the spray area.

The strip was a private access road that had been upgraded for a length of 800 m to serve as an airstrip. It ran perpendicular to a north-south sealed public road. Adjacent to the sealed road, and running parallel to it, was a powerline about 5 m high. The western end of the airstrip was about 50 m from the powerline. There were no signs on the road to warn motorists that low flying aircraft may be operating from the strip and crossing the road at low level. On each flight the pilot was landing the aircraft towards the east and taking off towards the west.

Because of its weight, the aircraft was flown under the powerline during most takeoffs. Prior to commencing each takeoff, the pilot checked for traffic on the road. From the cockpit he had a view of the road for about one kilometre in each direction. The pilot commented that he had to wait for traffic on a number of occasions during the day. He reported that because of fatigue and the low sun angle during the accident flight, he did not notice a vehicle travelling south. Just after becoming airborne the pilot saw the car but was unable to take avoiding action.

The left main wheel of the aircraft collided with the front left corner of the car's cabin and ran across its roof before breaking off and coming to rest in an adjacent paddock. The pilot considered that the aircraft was operating normally so he continued with the intended spraying operation and then returned to his home base for a landing. He provided no explanation as to why he did not report the accident immediately.

The driver of the car stated that she saw the aircraft just prior to the impact but was unable to take avoiding action. A passenger in the front seat received lacerations from the broken windscreen.

Safety Action

  1. The pilot did not ensure that the road was clear prior to commencing the take-off.
  2. The pilot did not observe a vehicle travelling along the road.
General details
Date: 28 March 1999   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1645 hours EST    
Location   (show map): 28 km W Pittsworth    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 19 January 2000   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-36  
Aircraft registration VH-HSQ  
Serial number 36-8202019  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point 28 km W Pittsworth, QLD  
Departure time 1645 hours EST  
Destination 28 km W Pittsworth, QLD  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 4000.0 17000
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Serious: 0 0 1 1
Total: 0 0 1 1
Last update 13 May 2014