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Summary

Summary

On 6 January 2005, the pilot of an Air Tractor AT-802A aircraft, registered VH-BQN, was spraying insecticide on a cotton crop on Wynella Station, 41 km south of Dirranbandi, Qld. The aircraft departed the station airstrip at about 2005 Eastern Standard Time to commence spraying operations and impacted the ground at 2035. The pilot was fatally injured, and the aircraft was destroyed by fire.

There was no evidence that the aircraft was not capable of normal operation at the time of the accident. The pilot had substantial agricultural and general flying experience, but had only recently completed night agricultural flight training. The accident occurred after the end of nautical twilight, there was no moon, and there was a band of cloud over Wynella station. There was virtually no ground lighting in the area. Post-mortem examination identified severe atherosclerotic narrowing of all three coronary arteries.

The lack of recorded and witness information, and the destruction of the cockpit by fire, prevented the investigation from conclusively identifying the factors that contributed to the development of the accident. However, the combination of pilot inexperience in night agricultural operations and the dark night conditions increased the risk of an accident.

 
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