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Summary

Summary

The Ayers Turbo Thrush aircraft was conducting water-bombing operations in support of bush fire-fighting activities. Three missions had been flown during the preceding 2 hours, using runway 05. Following the third mission, aircraft operations were suspended and the aircraft was refuelled. During refuelling the pilot was tasked to drop a load of retardant in another location. The pilot assessed the wind to be from the northeast and lined up for departure on runway 05. The aircraft had a full load of retardant on board. The pilot reported that during the takeoff roll he experienced control difficulties, so he jettisoned approximately half of the retardant load in order to assist with directional control of the aircraft. As the aircraft became airborne, it pitched nose-up and rolled right. The right wing collided with a sand dune and the aircraft cartwheeled onto the nearby beach, coming to rest in shallow water. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, egressed the aircraft uninjured. The aircraft was destroyed. A total of 25 minutes had elapsed between the takeoff attempt and the preceding landing.

The pilot assessed that while the aircraft was heavy at the commencement of the takeoff roll, it was approximately 300 kg below Maximum Takeoff Weight. Jettisoning of approximately half the fire retardant load during the takeoff roll further reduced the takeoff weight.

The Terminal Area Forecast current at the time of the accident indicated a wind of 270 degrees at 15 kts. Recorded and observed meteorological conditions indicated strong gusty north-westerly winds.

The failure of the aircraft to become airborne while under control was consistent with a takeoff attempt in a heavy aircraft under the influence of strong tail and crosswind components.

 
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