Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control - VH-BTD, Piper PA-31 Navajo, 50 km N Cairns, QLD, 2 December 2006

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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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.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 231KB]
General details
Date: 02 December 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1112 EST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 50 km north of Cairns    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 06 May 2009   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

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
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 194.9 851.6
Last update 03 April 2020