On 13 July 2010, a Cessna Aircraft 210M aircraft, registered VH-TIJ, with two people on board was engaged in geophysical survey operations about 100 km south of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia (WA). Shortly after commencing a grid survey at low level, the aircraft collided with terrain in a shallow descent at around 140 to 150 kts in a wings level attitude. The pilot and survey equipment operator received serious injuries and the aircraft sustained serious damage.
The equipment operator raised the alarm and maintained contact with the rescue coordinators throughout the operation. He may have reduced the extent of his injuries had he been wearing his upper body seatbelt restraint. The emergency locator beacon fitted to the aircraft failed to activate.
As a result of this accident and a previous industry accident in December 2009 involving a different operator and owner, the geophysical survey company have been investigating the fitment of a 4-point harness into the operator's seat, and movement of the equipment such that the operator could still complete his/her work.
They further advised that they have already placed 4-point harnesses in the pilot's seat in their other aircraft and expect engineering work to be completed to allow modification of the operator position soon.
The aircraft operator advised that they were undertaking work on the radio altimeters fitted to survey aircraft to add an aural warning function to the existing warning light to enhance pilot awareness of when the selected aircraft operating height has been acquired.
The aircraft was fitted with a ME406 emergency locator beacon that was designed to be activated by impact forces. No activation was recorded probably because a necessary jumper link had not been installed. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has undertaken to raise industry awareness of the circumstances of this beacon non-activation through publication of an article in the next Flight Safety Australia Magazine. This article will highlight correct emergency locator transmitter (ELT) installations and possible pitfalls of not following approved methods and designs.