Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna Aircraft Company 210L , VH-BBI

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the Cessna 210, was departing Lake Evella on a positioning flight to Elcho Island. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft takeoff and climb to about 400 ft above ground level. The aircraft then entered what was described as a `wing-over type manoeuvre' before descending steeply into the ground.

It was reported that, before the flight, the pilot had indicated his intention to conduct a low pass over the runway after takeoff. It was also reported that the pilot had occasionally conducted low passes on arrival and departure at the airstrip.

New evidence presented to the ATSB on 16 October 2003 revealed that the aircraft impacted the ground in a 30 degree nose-low attitude, with the engine operating at low power. The evidence indicated that an engineering examination found no evidence of any pre-existing system malfunction which would contribute to a loss of engine power. At the time of impact the propeller blade angles were close to the fine pitch stop. The examination concluded that the engine, propeller and their associated systems were not a factor in the accident.

The aircraft was considered to have stalled and briefly auto-rotated, during which the nose dropped into a steep nose-low attitude. To the untrained observer that may have looked like a wing-over type manoeuvre. During the attempted recovery, the pilot may have closed the throttle to reduce acceleration and height loss. The height at which the stall occurred was about 400 ft and calculations suggest that the time to ground impact was about 4 to 5 seconds and the speed at impact about 100 to 120 kts.

Witnesses reported that the engine was operating at high power until impact, indicating that the engine noise ceased about the time of impact. The new evidence presented to the ATSB indicates that the witnesses who reported hearing the engine noise were about 1000 metres from the aircraft and any change in engine noise would have taken about 3 seconds to reach them. That would indicate that the pilot may have closed the throttle soon after the aircraft entered the dive.

The circumstances of the accident were consistent with the pilot attempting a manoeuvre after takeoff, which inadvertently stalled the aircraft at a low height. Control of the aircraft was then lost with insufficient height remaining to effect recovery.

The ATSB did not conduct an on-site investigation into this occurrence. This report has been compiled from information provided to the Bureau.

General details
Date: 04 February 2001   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1800 hours CST    
Location   (show map): 1 km E Lake Evella, Aero.    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 11 December 2003   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 210  
Aircraft registration VH-BBI  
Serial number 21060471  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Lake Evella, NT  
Departure time 1800 hours CST  
Destination Elcho Island, NT  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 48.3 819
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Total: 1 0 0 1
Last update 13 May 2014