Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - De Havilland DH-82A aircraft, VH-GVA, Maryborough Airport, Victoria, 27 January 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Safety summary

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What happened

At about 1710 on 27 January 2012, a De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd DH-82A Tiger Moth aircraft, registered VH-GVA, took off from Maryborough Airport, Victoria, with two people on board.

Immediately after lift-off, the aircraft was observed to have a partial, intermittent power loss. The pilot continued the flight with the aircraft maintaining altitude or climbing slightly. At the upwind end of the runway, the aircraft made a climbing left turn before stalling and descending. The aircraft impacted the ground and the occupants received fatal injuries.

The aircraft was seriously damaged by the accident forces and post-impact fire.

What the ATSB found

The partial engine power loss was probably a result of a partial blockage of the aircraft’s fuel cock. Although sufficient runway remained ahead to allow a safe landing, the flight was continued under limited power without gaining sufficient height to clear trees beyond the runway. Approaching the trees the aircraft climbed, lost airspeed, stalled and collided with terrain. There would have been a safer outcome had the pilot immediately landed the aircraft straight ahead.

Safety message

This accident illustrates several of the points made in the ATSB’s research report AR-2010-055, Managing partial power loss after takeoff in single-engine aircraft. In particular, pilots are reminded that continued power in such circumstances is unpredictable and risk can be reduced by conducting a controlled landing at the earliest opportunity.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.56MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 3.75MB]



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Response to Inquest Findings

The Coroner’s Court of Victoria, without holding an inquest, recently made findings into a 2012 fatal De Havilland Aircraft DH-82A (Tiger Moth) aircraft at the Maryborough Airfield.

The Coroner adopted the Sequence of Events as set out in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau final report in relation to how the accident occurred and incorporated into his finding those of the ATSB as to the possible cause of loss of power.

ATSB Investigations and Coronial Inquiries

Inquests are separate to ATSB investigations. In this matter the respective authorities largely agree on what the safety issues are that the industry needs to take account of.

The ATSB's report can be downloaded by clicking on the link: AO-2012-017 Feedback can be provided via the website.

The Coroner's report can be obtained from the Coroner's Court of Victoria. Contact details are available at: www.coronerscourt.vic.gov.au/utility/contact+us/ Queries regarding the Coroner's findings should be directed to the Coroner's Court of Victoria.

General details
Date: 27 January 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1710 ESuT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Maryborough    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Fuel starvation  
Release date: 04 October 2012   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model DH-82  
Aircraft registration VH-GVA  
Serial number 1014  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Maryborough, Vic.  
Destination Maryborough, Vic.  
Last update 03 April 2020