A Beechcraft Bonanza A36, with the pilot and one passenger on board, departed Swan Hill at approximately 1600 on 20 April 2001. The pilot had not submitted a flight plan to Airservices Australia and did not broadcast his intentions to an air traffic control unit. However the pilot left details of the flight at the point of departure and arranged to phone a contact on arrival at Goulburn. At about 1735 a radar trace consistent with the flight path of the aircraft was identified approaching Goulburn from Yass. The aircraft disappeared from radar 7 NM west of Goulburn at 1744, which was consistent with the flight profile of a planned descent to Goulburn. The end of official daylight was 1758. The pilot did not report to the contact by phone as planned and a search for the aircraft commenced the next morning.
The aircraft wreckage was found 4 NM to the south-west of the aerodrome. The aircraft had been flying in a direction away from the aerodrome, when it collided with dense woodland on the far side of a hill. The measured descent path of the aircraft through the trees indicated a rate of descent well in excess of that normally found in controlled flight. The aircraft was consumed by post-impact fire. The accident was not survivable.
Examination of the wreckage found no evidence of any defect in the aircraft or its systems that may have contributed to the circumstances of the accident. The pilot was appropriately licensed to operate the aircraft in day visual conditions. He had completed 4.5 hours flight training towards qualifying for issue of the night visual flight rules rating, but did not hold that rating. The aircraft was not appropriately equipped, nor was the pilot qualified for flight in instrument meteorological conditions.
At the time of the aircraft's departure from Swan Hill meteorological reports indicated the en-route weather as fine. The destination forecast indicated cloud in the vicinity of the aerodrome and a requirement to expect the possibility of holding for up to 30 minutes, for weather reasons, before a landing would be possible. Witnesses reported that at the time of the accident there was fog and drizzle in the vicinity of the hill on which the aircraft impacted.
Persons who had flown with the pilot stated that they had flown with him at night and in conditions of poor visibility. They also reported that the pilot normally flew the aircraft with the aid of a moving-map display global positioning system.
The weather conditions facing the pilot in the Goulburn area, together with fading daylight, would have deprived the pilot of a visible horizon to assist in controlling the aircraft. This would have increased the probability of spatial disorientation and a subsequent loss of control.
The circumstances of the accident were consistent with the pilot attempting to continue the flight into non-visual meteorological conditions.
|Date:||20 April 2001||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1744 hours EST|
|Location:||8 km WSW Goulburn, (NDB)|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|Release date:||03 August 2001||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Beech Aircraft Corp|
|Type of operation||Private|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Swan Hill, VIC|
|Departure time||1600 hours EST|
|Role||Class of licence||Hours on type||Hours total|