On 21 March 2010, a Gippsland Aeronautics GA8 Airvan aircraft, registered VH-AJZ, departed East Wallabi Island, in the Abrolhos Islands group, for a return flight to Geraldton, Western Australia (WA), under visual flight rules. On departure, the pilot reported observing a line of thunderstorms with frequent lightning, oriented in about a north-south direction, and approaching Geraldton from the west.
At about 27 km from Geraldton, flying through moderate rain, the pilot noted a vacuum pump failure. At about 11 km, the pilot encountered hail, and at 6 km a '...blanket of rain...' which had obscured the aerodrome, and turbulence which had increased '...quite dramatically...'.
The pilot turned the aircraft away from the line of storms to the south of Geraldton, and at 24 km and at about 1500, elected to conduct a precautionary landing. The pilot selected a suitable landing area in a paddock and landed the aircraft. The aircraft was undamaged and there were no injuries to the pilot or passengers.
Subsequent to this occurrence, the operator provided its pilots with a means for more reliable access to up to date weather information when on the ground at the Abrolhos Islands group.
|Date:||21 March 2010||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1500 WST||Investigation level:||Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||24 km SE of Geraldton aerodrome|
|State:||Western Australia||Occurrence type:||Unforecast weather|
|Release date:||29 June 2010||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd|
|Type of operation||Charter|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|
|Departure point||Abrolhos Islands, Indian Ocean|