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On 25 March 2011, a Cessna 172 aircraft, registered VH-SMY, departed Geraldton on a charter passenger flight to East Wallabi Island (in the Abrolhos Islands group), Western Australia.

While on final approach to the Island, the nose of the aircraft was positioned at a 45° angle to the runway to remain aligned with the centreline due to gusty winds. The wind conditions appeared to be from an east to south-easterly direction. When at about 500 ft the pilot elected to overfly the runway.

A second approach was commenced, but the wind was again too strong for a landing with a go-around conducted. Despite full power being applied the engine did not perform as expected during the climb for another circuit.

During downwind, the pilot noted that the windsock was moving considerably. On final, the aircraft was again at a 45° angle and experiencing wind buffet.

During the landing flare, the aircraft floated, before touching down about half way along the runway. Determining the aircraft could not be stopped by the runway end, the pilot elected to go-around. He moved the throttle full forward, but the engine did not deliver full power. The aircraft momentarily became airborne before contacting a sand dune and coming to rest upright in the water.

The pilot reported that, due to the recent commencement of his employment with the operator, he wanted to complete the flight.

This accident highlights the need for pilots to be aware that self-imposed undue pressure, can come about for a variety of reasons (time or task-oriented). It is important to understand one's personal limitations, especially when flying in or around adverse weather conditions.

Download Final Report - Bulletin
[ Download PDF: 5.43MB]
General details
Date: 25 March 2011 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0840 WST  
Location   (show map):Geraldton Airport, west 80 km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 12 December 2011 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 172 
Aircraft registration: VH-SMY 
Serial number: 172 70657 
Type of operation: Charter 
Departure point:Geraldton, WA
Destination:Big Pigeon Island, WA
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Last update 01 March 2016