Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - Cessna 172N, VH-ZWR, The Oaks, Fraser Island, Queensland, 4 January 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At about 1000 Eastern Standard Time on 4 January 2012, a Cessna 172 N aircraft, registered VH-ZWR, operating under the Visual Flight Rules in G Airspace, was taking off to conduct a charter flight with the pilot and three passengers on board.

When the aircraft had reached about 25 to 30 ft above ground level, after takeoff from The Oaks beach at Fraser Island, Queensland, the aircraft descended. The right wingtip struck the beach near the water line and the aircraft came to rest on the left wingtip and nose. The occupants exited the aircraft with minor injuries before the aircraft was turned on its back several minutes later by wave action.

The circumstances of the accident were consistent with an aircraft stalling as it climbed out of ground effect while flying at an airspeed and configuration where the airspeed was unstable.

As a result of this accident the operator has reviewed their soft field take-off procedures.

This accident highlights that pilots should be aware of the effect that flap extension has on the stall attitude of their aircraft, and the need for pilots to be aware of performance variations when conducting a soft field takeoff.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.63MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 9.81MB]
General details
Date: 04 January 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1000 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): The Oaks, Fraser Island    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 24 May 2012   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172  
Aircraft registration VH-ZWR  
Serial number 17270575  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Happy Valley, QLD  
Last update 14 November 2018