Aviation safety investigations & reports

Controlled flight into terrain - Piper Saratoga PA 32R 301T, VH-LKI, Moree Airport, NSW, 30 March 2011

Investigation number:
AO-2011-043
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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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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Photos

Preliminary

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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.

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Alternate: [Download  DOC: 408KB]
 
General details
Date: 30 March 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2000 ESuT    
Location   (show map): Moree   Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation  
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 details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-32  
Aircraft registration VH-LKI  
Serial number 32R-8329020  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Brewarrina, NSW  
Destination Moree, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018