Aviation safety investigations & reports

Missing aircraft, Buckingham Bay, Northern Territory, 16 October 2008, VH-WRT, GA-8 Airvan

Investigation number:
AO-2008-072
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On the morning of 16 October 2008, a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 Airvan, registered VH-WRT, was being operated on a freight charter flight from Elcho Island and return, Northern Territory. At about 1230, it was realised that the aircraft was missing. A witness reported seeing the aircraft during the early stages of the flight and, shortly afterwards, a column of dark black smoke rising from the eastern side of the Napier Peninsula. On 17 October 2008, items of wreckage from the aircraft were found in the south-western part of Buckingham Bay. The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft, and the main wreckage of the aircraft have not been found. After consideration of the available evidence, the investigation was unable to identify any factor that contributed to the accident.

Although the investigation did not identify any issues that had the potential to adversely affect the safety of future operations, the operator took proactive safety action in response to the accident. That action included changed procedures in the areas of cargo restraint and the carriage of dangerous goods, the supervision and oversight of flights, and to the operator's flight following requirements. In addition, the operator has acted to reduce pilot workload.

 

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Preliminary

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Preliminary report released 19 December 2008

On the morning of 16 October 2008, a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 Airvan, registered VH-WRT, being operated on a freight charter flight, was reported missing near Elcho Island, NT. Subsequently, items of wreckage from the aircraft were found in Buckingham Bay. The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft, was assumed to be fatally injured.

Download Preliminary Report
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General details
Date: 16 October 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0945 CST   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Elcho Island 170 deg M 20 Km    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 19 July 2010   Occurrence class: Operational  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model GA8  
Aircraft registration VH-WRT  
Serial number GA8-01-005  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Elcho Island, NT  
Destination Mata Mata, NT  
Last update 14 November 2018