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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.

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General details
Date: 02 December 2005 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1350 ESuT  
Location   (show map):28 km N Condobolin Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: In-flight break-up 
Release date: 11 October 2007 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
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
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total
Fatal: 1304
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Last update 16 February 2016