On 30 March 2011, a Piper Saratoga PA-32R-301T aircraft, registered VH-LKI, with a pilot and five passengers on board was returning to Moree Airport from Brewarrina Airport, New South Wales under the night Visual Flight Rules (NVFR).
The aircraft flew overhead the airport at about 2000 Eastern Daylight-saving Time before the pilot conducted a left circuit for landing on runway 19. Witnesses observed the aircraft on a low approach path as it flew toward the runway during the final approach leg of the circuit. The aircraft contacted trees and collided with level terrain about 550 m short of the runway 19 threshold.
The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Two other passengers, who were seated toward the rear of the aircraft, were seriously injured. The aircraft was seriously damaged by the impact forces.
The investigation did not identify any organisational or systemic issues that might adversely affect the future safety of aviation operations. However, the pilot did not satisfy the recency requirements of his NVFR rating and the aircraft's take-off weight was in excess of the maximum allowable for the aircraft.
In addition, the aircraft's centre of gravity was probably outside that specified in the aircraft flight manual, with the potential to significantly diminish the aircraft's in-flight performance and pitch stability.
This investigation highlights the importance of ensuring that all operational requirements are satisfied prior to exercising the privileges of any ratings or licences. In addition, the investigation reinforces the importance of pilots operating their aircraft within the published flight manual limitations.
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Preliminary report released 26 April 2011
On 30 March 2011, a Piper Saratoga PA32R-301T aircraft, registered VH-LKI, with a pilot and five passengers on board was returning to Moree Airport, New South Wales, from Brewarrina, which was located 300 km to the west‑south-west of Moree.
The aircraft was reported to have flown overhead the airport at about 2000 Eastern Daylight-saving Time before the pilot conducted what was reported to be a left circuit for a landing on runway 19. The aircraft was observed on a low approach path as it flew toward the runway during the final approach leg, before contacting trees and colliding with level terrain about 550 m short of the runway 19 threshold.
The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Two other passengers who were seated in the rear of the aircraft were seriously injured. The aircraft was seriously damaged by the impact forces.
|Date:||30 March 2011||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||2000 ESuT||Investigation level:||Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence type:||CFIT|
|Release date:||26 April 2012||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Piper Aircraft Corp|
|Type of operation||Private|
|Damage to aircraft||Serious|
|Departure point||Brewarrina, NSW|