On 9 December 2006, the pilot of an Air Tractor Inc. AT802A aircraft, registered VH-CJZ, was conducting night agricultural spraying operations under the night visual flight rules, at a property 19 km NE of Collarenebri, NSW. In conjunction with a pilot in another agricultural spraying aircraft from the same aircraft operator, the Air Tractor pilot was utilising an airstrip located on the property as a base for the spraying operation. At about 2140 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the aircraft was returning to the airstrip when it impacted the ground 1.4 km WSW of the landing strip. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire.
Earlier that evening, the pilot had made a 20-minute positioning flight from the operator's base at Wee Waa, NSW, to the airstrip. The pilot then conducted two 30-minute spraying flights, with a short period on the ground to replenish the load of chemical fertiliser. The aircraft remained running while that replenishment was conducted. The accident occurred when the pilot was returning to the airstrip at the conclusion of the second spraying flight.
Examination of the aircraft wreckage revealed no evidence of an in-flight fire or any mechanical fault with the aircraft, engine, or systems which may have contributed to the occurrence. The intensity of the post-impact fire, deformation to the integral wing fuel tank structure and ground marks, indicated that there was sufficient fuel on board the aircraft for the operation. There was no evidence that the aircraft struck trees or powerlines.
The reason for the aircraft impacting the ground could not be conclusively determined. It was possible that the pilot may have experienced a medical event that was not evident during the post-mortem medical examination. However, based on the evidence available it is probable that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation and a subsequent loss of control of the aircraft resulting in it impacting the ground.
Preliminary report released 9 December 2006
|Date:||09 December 2006||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||2200 EST||Investigation level:||Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||56km E Collarenebri|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|Release date:||03 December 2008||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Air Tractor Inc|
|Type of operation||Aerial Work|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Colley Farms, NSW|
|Destination||Colley Farms, NSW|