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During an approach into Cairns Airport, Qld in overcast conditions late on the morning of 2 December 2006, the pilot of a Piper Navajo aircraft, registered VH-BTD, lost control of the aircraft and entered an uncontrolled descent. Control of the aircraft was regained shortly before the pilot became visual below the cloud base, and the pilot continued to Cairns.

The loss of control was the result of the pilot's inexperience with respect to the effects of spatial disorientation and with flight in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).

This occurrence reaffirms the potential for spatial disorientation, if not recognised and recovered from appropriately, to result in the loss of aircraft control.

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General details
Date: 02 December 2006 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1112 EST  
Location   (show map):50 km north of Cairns Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Loss of control 
Release date: 06 May 2009 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-31 
Aircraft registration: VH-BTD 
Serial number: 31-7912041 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Port Moresby
Departure time:0822 EST
Destination:Cairns, Qld
Crew details
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total
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Last update 14 November 2018