Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with water - Cessna 172N aircraft, VH-UFN, Woolcunda Lake, NSW, 21 June 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On the morning of 21 June 2010 the owner/pilot of a Cessna Aircraft 172N, registered VH‑UFN, departed from a private airstrip near Woolcunda Lake, New South Wales for a flight over the pilot's property. The aircraft did not return and was reported missing that afternoon. A search was initiated and, 2 days later, the aircraft was located in Woolcunda Lake.

The investigation identified that the aircraft impacted the lake in a left banking turn. Irrespective of the reason for being at low level, it is probable that the pilot misjudged the height of the aircraft above the lake's surface, or was distracted at a height from which the pilot was unable to recover before impacting the water.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau report AR‑2009-041 Avoidable Accidents No. 1: Low‑level flying addressed the dangers associated with low-level flight and in particular, the reduced time available to recover from any loss of control. This investigation provides a timely reminder of the effect on that risk of flight over expanses of flat, featureless terrain or water.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 344KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 3.54MB]
General details
Date: 21 June 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1000 EST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Woolcunda Lake    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 19 August 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172  
Aircraft registration VH-UFN  
Serial number 17270963  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Woolcunda Station, NSW  
Destination Woolcunda Station, NSW  
Last update 03 April 2020