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The pilot of the Cessna 182B Skylane (C182), with one passenger on board, departed Leongatha aerodrome in Victoria at about 1530 Eastern Standard Time (EST). The pilot planned the private flight in accordance with the visual flight rules to track coastal to Moruya and then via the Araluen Valley to 'Turalla', a private property located approximately 3 km northwest of Bungendore, NSW. The aircraft carried sufficient fuel for the flight.

Witnesses reported that, at about 1755, the aircraft overflew a property belonging to a relative of the pilot 3 km to the southeast of Bungendore, at about 500 ft AGL. That relative had been nominated as the responsible person to hold and cancel the nominated SARTIME of 1820. The aircraft was then observed to track west towards the Kings Highway, at a low level, and make a right turn to join a wide left base for the grass airstrip located at 'Turalla'. The airstrip was aligned approximately 305 degrees M. The aircraft was observed to turn left onto final approach at about 50-80 ft AGL. Witnesses reported that all turns were made using about 45 degrees angle of bank. Witnesses also observed the aircraft to be buffeted by gusting winds.

The weather at the time was reported by witnesses to be clear conditions with some upper level cloud. Winds were strong and blustery, from the west and northwest. A Bureau of Meteorology assessment of the weather indicated gusty north-westerly winds backing to the west after the passage of a front, which had occurred earlier in the day. The general wind structure lent itself to at least moderate turbulence and the strong possibility of lee waves and strong downslope winds.

While on short final, the aircraft was observed to make a steep climb towards a downwind position, turning to the right using 60-80 degrees angle of bank. It was then observed to lose altitude rapidly. It turned through about 295 degrees before impacting the ground approximately 300 m east-north-east of the airstrip threshold. The aircraft struck the ground at a 60-80 degree nose down, left wing low, attitude on a heading of about 240 degrees M. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire.

 

Witnesses observed the C182 at low altitude on approach to Turalla. Their reports that the wings were rocking from side to side were consistent with the turbulence that may have been produced in the lee of the escarpment by the strong wind. Down draughts and rotor turbulence could have resulted from the vigorous airflow at right angles to the escarpment, immediately to the west of the airstrip, and existed for a considerable distance downwind of the escarpment.

An approach to land in those conditions should not have placed any exceptional demand on the pilot's skill. The strip was aligned nearly into wind and the pilot was familiar with both the airstrip and the aircraft. The pilot had probably flown from the airstrip in similar conditions previously and should have been aware of the potential for turbulence and down draughts. The landing distance available was more than adequate for the aircraft type.

In turbulent conditions a pilot can elect to use less than maximum flap, or even no flap for the approach and landing. In a strong headwind, this would not significantly increase the aircraft's landing distance. Using less than full flap on the C182 can improve aircraft handling in turbulence. However, using less flap at lower airspeeds and higher angles of bank, significantly increases the aircraft stall speed.

Although the reason the approach was discontinued was unable to be determined, it was possible that the approach became unstable in the turbulence with airspeed fluctuations. The pilot appeared to have turned right to initiate a low-level circuit. Familiarity with the airstrip and anticipating turbulence in the lee of the escarpment may have been the reason that the pilot initiated a right turn rather than climbing straight ahead, which could have placed the aircraft into an area of increased turbulence. The direction of turn was consistent also with the pilot turning away from the glare of the setting sun. The pilot's memory of his siblings' accident may have influenced the decision-making process to make a rapid escape from the area of turbulence.

Witnesses reported that the aircraft's angle of bank was between 60 and 80 degrees when the approach was discontinued. There was no apparent reason for a steep turn to be made. There was no necessity for the pilot to rapidly make another approach and landing. There were adequate margins for both daylight and fuel.

The altitude at which the aircraft was seen to be operating would probably not have been sufficient to allow recovery from a stall, even with a pilot proficient in the technique. It was also possible that at the extreme angles of bank, a sudden loss of lift resulting from windshear or turbulence, or a rapid retraction of the manually operated flaps, could have placed the aircraft in a stalled condition from which recovery would have been unlikely at such a low height.

 
  1. The weather conditions at the time of the accident were favourable to the development of lee waves and strong downslope winds in the vicinity of the airstrip.
  2. The aircraft banked steeply out of wind, while at low airspeed and a low height.
  3. The aircraft stalled at an altitude from which recovery by the pilot was not considered possible and control of the aircraft was lost.


 

History of the flight

The pilot of the Cessna 182B Skylane (C182), with one passenger on board, departed Leongatha aerodrome in Victoria at about 1530 Eastern Standard Time (EST). The pilot planned the private flight in accordance with the visual flight rules to track coastal to Moruya and then via the Araluen Valley to 'Turalla', a private property located approximately 3 km northwest of Bungendore, NSW. The aircraft carried sufficient fuel for the flight.

Witnesses reported that, at about 1755, the aircraft overflew a property belonging to a relative of the pilot 3 km to the southeast of Bungendore, at about 500 ft AGL. That relative had been nominated as the responsible person to hold and cancel the nominated SARTIME of 1820. The aircraft was then observed to track west towards the Kings Highway, at a low level, and make a right turn to join a wide left base for the grass airstrip located at 'Turalla'. The airstrip was aligned approximately 305 degrees M. The aircraft was observed to turn left onto final approach at about 50-80 ft AGL. Witnesses reported that all turns were made using about 45 degrees angle of bank. Witnesses also observed the aircraft to be buffeted by gusting winds.

The weather at the time was reported by witnesses to be clear conditions with some upper level cloud. Winds were strong and blustery, from the west and northwest. A Bureau of Meteorology assessment of the weather indicated gusty north-westerly winds backing to the west after the passage of a front, which had occurred earlier in the day. The general wind structure lent itself to at least moderate turbulence and the strong possibility of lee waves and strong downslope winds.

While on short final, the aircraft was observed to make a steep climb towards a downwind position, turning to the right using 60-80 degrees angle of bank. It was then observed to lose altitude rapidly. It turned through about 295 degrees before impacting the ground approximately 300 m east-north-east of the airstrip threshold. The aircraft struck the ground at a 60-80 degree nose down, left wing low, attitude on a heading of about 240 degrees M. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire.

Injuries to persons

The passenger was fatally injured. Autopsy and toxicological tests conducted on the passenger revealed a low level of carbon monoxide in the blood. Medical opinion indicated that death occurred prior to the commencement of the post-impact fire. The pilot was seriously injured and survived the accident for 68 days before succumbing to the effects of his injuries.

Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, defined a fatal injury as an injury that resulted in death within 30 days of the date of an accident.

Wreckage and impact information

A post-impact fire consumed the cockpit area. The extent of the fire damage precluded a productive examination of the cockpit, controls and instruments. Many of the alloyed components had been reduced to a molten state. Examination of the wreckage indicated that at the time of impact the aircraft was not configured for landing. The wing flaps were set to the retracted position. The engine was removed from the accident site for technical examination. The examination determined that the engine was capable of normal operation prior to impact and that it was producing power at the time of impact. Nothing was found during the investigation to suggest that mechanical failure of any part of the aircraft could have contributed to the accident.

Personnel Information

The pilot held a current private pilot's licence, was endorsed on the aircraft type and familiar with the landing area. A review of the pilot's personal flying logbook indicated that he had accumulated in excess of 340 hours total time, most of which were accrued on the occurrence aircraft. Four days prior to the accident, the pilot had satisfactorily completed a biennial flight review. The pilot held a valid Class 2 Aviation Medical Certificate. The pilot had just completed a short hiking holiday and there was no evidence to indicate any physical or psychological conditions that may have adversely affected his ability to pilot the aircraft.

Landing area

The landing area at Turalla was inspected after the accident. With the exception of a centrally located windsock, there were no aerodrome markings to detail the exact location and dimensions of the airstrip. There was evidence of recent aircraft use on the grass strip. The landing distance available was approximately 800 m, orientated approximately 305 degrees M. There was no evidence to indicate that livestock had been grazing on the paddock that contained the airstrip in the past month. A north-south ridgeline was located approximately 1 km to the west of the airstrip. At the time of the accident, the sun was setting in the west and was visible above the horizon.

Previous occurrence at the airstrip

One of the pilot's brothers and a sister were fatally injured in a separate aircraft accident (Bureau of Air Safety Investigation Report No. BO/199603734) in the vicinity of the same airstrip in 1996, when similar wind conditions were experienced. On that occasion, the Cessna U206F (C206) aircraft was climbing on departure from Turalla when the pilot turned left onto downwind. The C206 stalled at a height from which it was not possible to recover.

 
General details
Date: 13 October 2002 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1800 hours EST  
Location   (show map):2 km W Bungendore Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 18 July 2003 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 182 
Aircraft registration: VH-PDK 
Serial number: 51673 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:Leongatha, VIC
Departure time:1530 hours EST
Destination:Turalla, NSW
Crew details
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total
Pilot-in-CommandPrivate198342
 
Injuries
 CrewPassengerGroundTotal
Fatal: 1102
Total:1102
 
 
 
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Last update 13 May 2014