Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain Pitts S-2A aircraft, VH-NUK, 7 km north-east of Camden, New South Wales, 18 March 2008

Investigation number:
AO-2008-021
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 18 March 2008, at approximately 1115 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Pitts S-2A aircraft struck two trees before impacting the ground beside the Northern Road, 7 km north-east of Camden, NSW, fatally injuring the occupant of the rear cockpit.

The occupant of the rear cockpit (the candidate), an experienced aerobatic pilot, was undergoing a routine flight review with an instructor. In the instructor's judgment, the candidate flew well during the flight review until a practice forced landing (PFL) manouvre just before the accident.

During the PFL, the candidate stopped responding to instructions and commands, so the instructor took control of the aircraft. A powerful nose-up force began acting on the control column and, despite the instructor's efforts to control the aircraft, it entered an incipient aerodynamic stall. The instructor recovered the aircraft from the stall but, as consequence of the nose-up force, this came too late to prevent a collision with trees.

No evidence of any mechanical problem with the aircraft was found. Post mortem examination of the candidate found he had severe heart disease.

Expert medical opinion considered it likely that the candidate suffered an incapacitating event as a result of his heart disease, and that the incapacitating event probably led to him exerting a force on the control column. The nose-up force prevented complete control by the instructor, delayed recovery from the stall, and led to the impact with trees.

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Preliminary

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Preliminary report released 16 May 2008

On 18 March 2008, at approximately 1115 Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDT), a Pitts S-2A aircraft struck two trees before impacting the ground beside the Northern Road, 7 km NE of Camden, NSW, fatally injuring the occupant of the rear cockpit.

Download Preliminary Report
[Download  PDF: 426KB]
 
 
 
General details
Date: 18 March 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1115 ESuT   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Camden Airport E/6 km    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Flight crew incapacitation  
Release date: 10 February 2009   Occurrence class: Operational  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Pitts Aviation Enterprises  
Aircraft model S-2  
Aircraft registration VH-NUK  
Serial number 2116  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Bankstown Airport, NSW  
Departure time 1030  
Destination Bankstown Airport, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 17 4800
Other Crew Private 225 520
 
Injuries
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Minor: 1 0 0 1
Total: 2 0 0 2
Last update 14 November 2018