Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control, 4 km ENE Archerfield Airport, Queensland, 31 March 2006, Amateur built Lancair 320, VH-BST

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 0728 Eastern Standard Time on 31 March 2006, an amateur-built Lancair 320 aircraft, registered VH-BST, departed Townsville, Qld, on a private flight to Archerfield, Qld. At 1058, shortly after flying past the destination airport, the aircraft departed controlled flight and impacted the ground. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot sustained fatal injuries.

The loss of control was consistent with an accelerated aerodynamic stall, at a height from which it was not possible to recover, followed by the aircraft entering a spin to the left prior to impact. The loss of control occurred when the pilot was operating in adverse weather conditions of low cloud, was tracking towards an area of reduced visibility in rain and towards terrain that was higher than the aircraft.

The pilot's decision to continue the flight into instrument meteorological conditions, even though neither he nor the aircraft were certified to operate is those conditions, increased safety risk. The pilot's ability to fly the aircraft and manage the flight was limited by his relative lack of experience on high performance aircraft, and deficiencies in the training that he had received on the Lancair.

Some aerodynamic and flight control characteristics of the Lancair 320 aircraft increased the risk of an accident. However, those characteristics were largely a consequence of the role for which the aircraft had been designed. In order to operate Lancairs and other high-performance amateur-built experimental aircraft safely, pilots need to be aware of, and maintain the aircraft within, the safe operational envelope.

In response to this and other accidents involving amateur-built experimental aircraft, the ATSB is conducting further research on safety aspects of these types of aircraft.

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Interim Factual

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Interim Factual report released 22 September 2006

At 0728 Eastern Standard Time on 31 March 2006, an amateur-built Lancair 320 aircraft, registered VH-BST, departed Townsville, Qld, on a private flight to Archerfield Aerodrome, Qld. The pilot, who owned the aircraft and was the sole occupant, had earlier submitted a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan for the flight.

At 1048.30, the pilot contacted the Archerfield Aerodrome Controller and reported that he was 19 miles (35 km) from the aerodrome and inbound. He said that he was new to the area and would appreciate any help. The controller advised the pilot to report at the TV towers, a VFR reporting point 13 km north-west of Archerfield. The aircraft was maintaining about 3,700 ft AMSL (above mean sea level).

The pilot reported at the TV towers but had difficulties finding the aerodrome. Radar data showed that the aircraft was 2 km north of the aerodrome at 1,700 ft AMSL, and tracking south-south-east. At 1058.11, the controller asked the pilot if he had the aerodrome in sight. The pilot said that he did not, and said 'I feel I've overflown it'. The controller advised that radar information indicated that the aircraft was north of the aerodrome, and he suggested that the pilot continue to turn left. The pilot then acknowledged that transmission. No further radio transmissions were received from the pilot.

Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft's left wing drop and the aircraft appeared to enter a spin before descending straight down, colliding with a tree and then a creek running parallel to Kessels Road, Coopers Plains. The aircraft was destroyed and the impact was not survivable.

Download Interim Factual
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General details
Date: 31 March 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1058 EST    
Location   (show map): 4km ENE Archerfield Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 03 June 2008   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Amateur Built Aircraft  
Aircraft model Lancair  
Aircraft registration VH-BST  
Serial number N239  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Townsville, QLD  
Departure time 0728 EST  
Destination Archerfield, QLD  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Private 30 302
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Total: 1 0 0 1
Last update 18 April 2018