Aviation safety investigations & reports

In-flight breakup; 28 km north of Condobolin, NSW; 2 December 2005; VH-PYN, Piper Aircraft Corporation PA-31-350

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 1122 Eastern Daylight-saving Time on 2 December 2005, a Piper Aircraft Corporation PA-31350 Chieftain aircraft, registered VH-PYN, departed Archerfield, Qld, on a private flight to Griffith, NSW. On board were the pilot, an observer-pilot, and two passengers. The enroute weather was forecast to include occasional thunderstorms. At 1127, a SIGMET was issued advising of frequent observed thunderstorms south of Coonamble, NSW. Air traffic services did not pass the SIGMET information to the pilot of the aircraft, nor did their procedures require the information to be passed. There was no request from the pilot for weather information at any stage during the flight.

After the aircraft passed Coonamble, the pilot reported diverting left of track due to weather. The aircraft then came within air traffic control radar coverage, which showed it flying parallel to track at 10,000 ft, at a groundspeed of 200 to 220 kts. At 1350, the aircraft disappeared from radar and no further radio transmission was received from the pilot. At about 1400, the wreckage of PYN was found approximately 28 km north of Condobolin.

The wreckage trail extended for more than 4 km. The wings, outboard of the engine nacelles, the right engine, and sections of the empennage, had separated from the aircraft in flight. The remaining structure impacted the ground inverted and was destroyed by a post-impact fire. No evidence was found that aerodynamic flutter, in-flight fire or explosion, or lightning strike damage contributed to the circumstances that led to the break-up. However, the extent and nature of the damage precluded a complete examination of the aircraft and its systems.

There was evidence that immediately before the accident, the aircraft was likely to have been surrounded to the east, west, and south by a large complex of storms. The aircraft was not fitted with weather radar.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.13MB]
General details
Date: 02 December 2005   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1350 ESuT    
Location   (show map): 28 km N Condobolin    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: In-flight break-up  
Release date: 11 October 2007   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-31  
Aircraft registration VH-PYN  
Serial number 31-8252075  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Archerfield, QLD  
Departure time 1122 ESuT  
Destination Swan Hill, VIC  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 1034.0 4638.0
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 3 0 4
Total: 1 3 0 4
Last update 16 February 2016