On 29 December 2008, at about 1145 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a PZL-M18A Dromader (TPE331) aircraft, registered VH-IGT, took off from a road on a property 58 km south-west of Nyngan, New South Wales to conduct agricultural spraying operations. About 10 minutes later, the aircraft was seen flying back towards the road when a witness saw something fall off the aircraft, and reported that the aircraft then rolled and impacted the ground. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured.
The investigation found that the outboard 1.8 m of the right wing separated from the aircraft resulting in a loss of control and subsequent impact with the terrain. The separation of the right wing section could not be conclusively attributed to any particular factor.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined that a number of operators of the aircraft type were not applying the appropriate service life factors to determine the effective hours flown when their aircraft were operated at take-off weights above 4,700 kg. The effect was to overestimate the remaining service life of those aircraft.
It was also found that operators had an interpretation of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) exemptions that, by their understanding, permitted operation at weights in excess of the maximum take-off weight and allowed them to operate at higher take-off weights without the need to account for the additional limitation imposed by the manufacturer for operation at those weights.
As a result of the accident, the following safety action has been taken or proposed:
- The operator undertook a retrospective process of applying the service life factors to its aircraft fleet during operations that had involved take-off weights above 4,700 kg and will apply them to all relevant future flights.
- CASA advised that they had contacted Certificate of Registration holders of M18 Dromader aircraft to verify that they had a procedure for recording and factoring aircraft hours that included overweight operations. Further verification would also occur as part of CASA's routine surveillance program. CASA also advised that they will provide education to operators on the intention of the exemptions and will be revising the exemptions to ensure that the intended interpretation is clear.
At about 1145 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the pilot of a PZL-M18A Dromader aircraft, registered VH-IGT, took off from a road on a property 58 km south-west of Nyngan, NSW. About 10 minutes later, the outboard section of the right wing separated from the aircraft and the aircraft impacted the ground. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured.
A number of operators of the PZL M-18 Dromader aircraft had not applied the appropriate service life factors to the aircraft’s time in service for operations conducted with take-off weights greater than 4,700 kg, as required by the aircraft’s service documentation. Hence the operators could not be assured that their aircraft were within their safe service life.
|Who it affects:||Pilots of M18 Dromader aircraft|
Operation of the M-18A in accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority exemptions EX56/07 and EX09/07 at weights in excess of the basic Aircraft Flight Manual maximum take-off weight (MTOW), up to the MTOW listed on the Type Certificate Data Sheet, may not provide the same level of safety intended by the manufacturer when including that weight on the Type Certificate.
|Who it affects:||Pilots conducting agricultural operations|
|Date:||29 December 2008||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1200 ESuT||Investigation level:||Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||58 km SW of Nyngan|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence type:||In-flight break-up|
|Release date:||20 December 2011||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||PZL Warszawa-Okecie|
|Type of operation||Aerial Work|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Folkstone, NSW|