Aviation safety investigations & reports

Engine power loss - 15 km SE Gold Coast Airport, Queensland, 4 February 2007, VH-DIC, Piper Aircraft Co. PA-30 Twin Comanche

Investigation number:
200700358
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 4 February 2007, the owner-pilot of a Piper Aircraft Co. PA-30 Twin Comanche aircraft, registered VH-DIC, was conducting a private flight from Gold Coast Airport, Qld. The pilot was the sole occupant. Approximately 11 minutes into the flight, at 1622 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot declared an emergency reporting an engine failure and some 15 seconds later that he was also experiencing problems with the 'left engine'. Approximately 13 minutes after departure, the aircraft impacted the water about 100 m off Kingscliff beach, adjacent to the suburb of Casuarina, NSW. The pilot received fatal injuries.

Two days following the accident, the aircraft wreckage including most of the lower centre fuselage, wings, and both engines and propellers, was recovered and examined. The right propeller was recovered with the blades in the feathered position. The left propeller was recovered with the blades in the normal operating range with bending consistent with power being applied at the time of the impact with the sea.

The investigation determined that most probably the right engine stopped operating, followed by an unexplained power loss of the left engine. The aircraft airspeed then decreased below the minimum controllable airspeed during the emergency landing before power suddenly returned to the left engine causing the aircraft to pitch nose up and bank sharply to the right and impacting the water.

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Preliminary

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Preliminary report released 15 March 2007

On 4 February 2007, the owner pilot of a Piper Aircraft Co PA 30 Twin Comanche aircraft, registered VH-DIC, was conducting a private flight from the Gold Coast aerodrome. The pilot was the sole occupant. Approximately 11 minutes after takeoff, at 1622 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot declared an emergency reporting an engine failure and some 15 seconds later that he was also experiencing problems with the left engine. Approximately 13 minutes after departure, the aircraft impacted the water about 100 m from Kingscliff beach, adjacent to the suburb of Casuarina, New South Wales. The pilot sustained fatal injuries.

The aircraft wreckage, including most of the lower centre fuselage, wings, and both engines and propellers, were recovered 2 days after the accident. The right propeller was recovered with the blades in the feathered position. The left propeller blades were recovered in the normal operating range with bending consistent with power being applied at the time of the accident.

The pilot held a commercial pilot license and at the time of the accident, had accrued approximately 2,544 hrs total flying time. He purchased the accident aircraft in 1996, and had accrued approximately 940 hrs in that aircraft.
At the time of the accident, the weather was generally fine.

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General details
Date: 04 February 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1725 UTC    
Location   (show map): 15 km SE Gold Coast Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Propeller/rotor malfunction  
Release date: 17 April 2008   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-30  
Aircraft registration VH-DIC  
Serial number 30-1775  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Gold Coast airport, Qld  
Departure time 1712  
Destination Gold Coast airport, Qld  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 943.6 2544.2
 
Injuries
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Total: 1 0 0 1
Last update 18 April 2018