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Summary

Summary

At about 1922 Eastern Daylight-Saving Time on 16 February 2006, the pilot of a turbine PZL-Warszawa-Ockie M-18A, Dromader, registered VH-FVF, was fatally injured when the aircraft impacted terrain during fire-bombing operations approximately 20 km south-south-west of Cootamundra, NSW.

The pilot was an experienced agricultural pilot with previous fire-bombing experience. Although he had considerable flying experience on radial-engine Dromader aircraft, and in other turbine agricultural aircraft, his total flying experience in the modified turbine Dromader was 4.7 hours. Prior to commencing fire-bombing duties two days before the accident, the pilot had not recorded any fire-bombing flights in the previous 3 years.

The pilot's limited familiarity with the handling characteristics of the modified and heavily-loaded aircraft might not have allowed him adequate recognition of an impending stall. The pilot had not jettisoned the load of retardant when the aircraft stalled. The ensuing loss of control occurred at a height that did not permit recovery before the aircraft collided with the ground. The possibility that the pilot was distracted by a problem with the operation of the fire doors or some other activity could not be determined.

Subsequently, the state fire authority reviewed its minimum pilot experience levels for aerial fire suppression. The minimum aircraft type experience for fire-bombing pilots was made more specific to the type of aircraft. It also introduced a recency requirement for fire-bombing operations.

 
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