Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna Aircraft Company 210K, VH-RTH

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


The commercial pilot had hired a privately owned Cessna 210 for a flight to Killiecrankie on Flinders Island with two family members and two friends. After arriving overhead, the aircraft was positioned on downwind for a downhill landing on strip 27 at Killiecrankie. The pilot commented that there appeared to be no wind, which he determined from the windsock and the conditions prevailing on the ground, from the water in the bay and the stillness of the trees. A pilot on the ground, who is the owner of and responsible for the airfield maintenance and who witnessed the accident, reported that the wind was easterly at about 15 knots at tree top height, although probably less on the ground. The witness said that the sock was damaged, but it was still possible to determine the wind direction from environmental cues.

A passenger on the aircraft reported that he did not detect any indications of strong wind on the surface of the water or significant movement of the trees or foliage as the aircraft approached the threshold of the strip.

The pilot reported that on late downwind he configured the aircraft for landing with the first stage of flap and landing gear extended and turned the aircraft onto the final approach at approximately 800 ft above ground level. Although this was higher than normal for a turn onto final, he considered it to be okay. Full flap was lowered and the power reduced for landing.

As the aircraft neared touchdown well down the strip, the pilot considered it to be a late landing but still with sufficient length remaining for braking. The aircraft touched down and bounced twice into the air before the pilot applied power for the go-around. The witness reported that the aircraft initially touched down about two thirds of the way along the 1,400 metre strip before bouncing and then going around.

The pilot reported that although he applied full power, the aircraft did not accelerate to take off speed and did not gain sufficient height to clear the trees beyond the end of the strip. The passenger reported that as the aircraft approached the end of the strip during the go-around, it appeared to dip slightly as if affected by a gust of wind. The aircraft impacted the trees in a nose-up, wings-level attitude at full power, before the pilot reduced the power to idle. The fuselage remained upright during the impact sequence.

While the evacuation was taking place the aircraft began to burn and as the last passenger was exiting, the aircraft was almost totally engulfed in flames. All passengers evacuated through the main doors. The post-impact fire destroyed the aircraft. The pilot reported that prior to the flight he had thoroughly briefed the passengers on the emergency exits and the evacuation procedure.

The pilot later commented that he felt that the following factors contributed to the accident:

  1. Although he had landed at Killiecrankie before and was aware of the downhill slope to the west, it was about 12 months prior to the accident.
  2. The damaged windsock did not display the wind strength as accurately as an undamaged windsock would have.
  3. He unwittingly initiated a tailwind go-around with insufficient strip remaining.
General details
Date: 17 December 2002   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0900 hours ESuT    
Location   (show map): Killiecrankie, (ALA)    
State: Tasmania   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 20 May 2003   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 210  
Aircraft registration VH-RTH  
Serial number 21059327  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Latrobe Valley, VIC  
Departure time 0800 hours ESuT  
Destination Killiecrankie, TAS  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 855 1840
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Serious: 0 3 0 3
Minor: 1 1 0 2
Total: 1 4 0 5
Last update 13 May 2014