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During cruise at 9,000 ft, the aircraft encountered severe turbulence and the electrical system failed. The pilot unintentionally lost control of the aircraft when he leaned forward on the control column yoke and used both hands to search in the dark for a torch on the cockpit floor.

After recovering the hand-held torch, the pilot was able to light the instrument panel and return the aircraft to the required heading and altitude. When the battery master switch was turned off, the electrical system returned to full operation on alternators.

Maintenance personnel found that an internal electrical short in one of the 12 volt batteries had contributed to the electrical failure. After replacement of the faulty battery and completion of satisfactory electrical system checks, the aircraft was returned to service.

The pilot of the aircraft now secures his torch to his shirt with a strap to enable him to use both hands to keep control of the aircraft should a similar situation arise.

The aircraft operator now secures torches in all its aircraft with the addition of a quick release strap on the torch container.

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[ Download PDF: 336KB]
General details
Date: 04 September 2007 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 2120 EST  
Location   (show map):130km SE Mackay Aerodrome Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Loss of control 
Release date: 23 June 2008 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Aero Commander 
Aircraft model: 500 
Aircraft registration: VH-YJR 
Serial number: 3231 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Mackay, QLD
Departure time:2051 EST
Destination:Thangool, QLD
Crew details
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total
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Last update 14 November 2018