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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.

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General details
Date: 21 March 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1500 WST  
Location   (show map):24 km SE of Geraldton aerodrome Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Unforecast weather 
Release date: 29 June 2010 Occurrence class: Environment 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd 
Aircraft model: GA8 
Aircraft registration: VH-AJZ 
Serial number: GA8-05-096 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Abrolhos Islands, Indian Ocean
Destination:Geraldton, WA
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Last update 18 April 2018