Aviation safety investigations & reports

Controlled flight into terrain - Lake Liddell, NSW, 7 December 2007, Air Tractor AT-802, VH-LIS

Investigation number:
AO-2007-066
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 7 December 2007, the pilot of an Air Tractor Inc. AT-802 aircraft, registered VH-LIS, was conducting a test flight at Lake Liddell, NSW. The purpose of the flight was to test an experimental in-flight water collection system using skis attached to the aircraft's main landing gear.

At about 0910 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the pilot was conducting the second test run of the day. After the aircraft skis had been in contact with the surface of the lake for 36 seconds, witnesses observed the aircraft pitching nose down, about its right main landing gear while rotating to the right. The aircraft then overturned and sank. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the pilot was fatally injured.

The investigation concluded that the right experimental ski breached the surface of the water which caused a substantial amount of drag to act on the right side of the aircraft, as a consequence, the aircraft became uncontrollable. The circumstances of this accident highlight the need for due diligence and detailed risk assessments to be performed as part of experimental test programs.

As a result of this incident, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has proposed amendments to Advisory Circular 21-10 - Experimental Certificates to provide:

  • updated guidance information to persons applying for the issue of experimental certificates
  • advice on risk management for test pilots during experimental flight testing.

In addition, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued a safety recommendation to CASA in respect of the need to consider the safety of third parties, including on the ground or water, before issuing a Special Certificate of Airworthiness.

Aviation Safety Recommendation

[ AO-2007-066-SR-081]

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Preliminary

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Preliminary report released 19 February 2008

On 7 December 2007, the pilot of an Air Tractor Inc. AT-802 aircraft, registered VH-LIS, was conducting a test flight at Lake Liddell, NSW. The purpose of that flight was to test an experimental in-flight water collection system using skis attached to the aircraft's main landing gear.

At about 0910 Eastern Daylight-saving time, the pilot was conducting the second test run of the day. After the aircraft had been in contact with the surface of the lake for about 36 seconds, witnesses observed the aircraft collide with the surface of the lake. The aircraft overturned and sank in about 9 metres of water. The pilot was fatally injured.

Examination of the aircraft wreckage showed impact damage consistent with the aircraft pitching nose down, about its right main landing gear while rotating to the right.

Download Preliminary Report
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General details
Date: 07 December 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0910 EuST   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Lake Liddell    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: CFIT  
Release date: 25 June 2009   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Air Tractor Inc  
Aircraft model AT802  
Aircraft registration VH-LIS  
Serial number 802-0082  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Scone, NSW  
Departure time 0850 EuST  
Destination Scone, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 29,800
 
Injuries
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Total: 1 0 0 1
Last update 14 November 2018