On 29 October 2012, a Cessna 172N, registered VH-TKI (TKI), was being operated on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight from Coldstream to a private aircraft landing area (ALA) at Bagshot, Victoria, with a pilot and two passengers on board.
A witness at the airfield stated that as TKI approached short final on the approach, the aircraft contacted a powerline located at the southern end of the airfield. The powerline significantly reduced the aircraft’s forward speed, causing it to rotate about its nose and impact the airstrip in an almost inverted attitude. A post-impact, fuel-fed fire initiated at the wing roots almost immediately and witnesses assisted the aircraft occupants from the aircraft. However, the front-seat passenger was fatally injured, the pilot was seriously injured and the rear seat passenger sustained minor injuries.
What the ATSB found
Examination of the aircraft showed that its nose landing gear contacted the powerline. The powerline was located 8 m above ground level and about 140 m south of the displaced threshold of the landing strip.
The ATSB found that the pilot was aware of the powerline, but that his recollection was that they were closer to the tree line in the undershoot to the landing strip. In addition, a lack of adequate displaced threshold markings and the mown undershoot area led him to believe that the entire strip was useable for landing. This combined with the inherent difficulty of visually detecting wires and the distraction of another recently-landed aircraft on the airstrip to reduce the likelihood of the pilot detecting the wire.
No high visibility devices were attached to the powerlines, nor were they required to be under the current Australian Standards.
What's been done as a result
In response to this accident, the owner of the ALA has made significant changes to the runway markings, landing permission procedures affecting operations at the ALA and the available safety and firefighting equipment. In addition, markers have been erected near the powerline.
Aeroplane landing area owners can help manage the risk of collisions with obstacles by assessing their airstrips against the guidance in Civil Aviation Advisory Publication (CAAP) 92-1(1) Guidelines for Aeroplane Landing Areas. Such risk assessments should explicitly consider the needs of first time users of the ALA.
Operational risk can also be reduced by pilots ensuring sufficient time to make appropriate decisions including, if in doubt, an early decision to go around. Pilots should also ensure that everyone in their aircraft is wearing seatbelts correctly, affording the best chance of survival in case of an accident.
Update 18 December 2012
On 29 October 2012, a Cessna 172N, registered VH-TKI, was being operated on a flight from Coldstream, Victoria to a private airstrip at Bagshot, Victoria, with a pilot and two passengers on board. The private flight was being conducted to position the aircraft for maintenance.
The aircraft arrived at the airstrip at about 1300 Eastern daylight-saving time. A witness, who was located at the southern end of the airfield, observed a Tecnam aircraft land from the south as the Cessna 172 entered the circuit. The Tecnam landed and backtracked to a maintenance facility located on the southern end of the airstrip.
The pilot of the Cessna overflew the strip then conducted a right circuit to land. The passenger seated behind the pilot stated that all the occupants were focussing their attention on the Tecnam on the airstrip during the circuit and final approach.
The witness at the airfield stated that, as the Tecnam cleared the airstrip, the Cessna was on a short final approach. He saw the aircraft contact a powerline, located at the southern end of the airfield. The aircraft rotated over the powerline, significantly reducing its forward speed and causing it to impact the runway in an almost inverted attitude.
The aircraft came to rest inverted, and a post-impact, fuel-fed fire initiated at the wing roots and destroyed the aircraft (Figure 1). Witnesses reached the aircraft quickly and assisted the occupants. However, the front seat passenger was fatally injured, the pilot was seriously injured and the rear seat passenger sustained minor injuries.
Figure 1: Accident site of the Cessna 172, VH-TKI
Examination of the aircraft showed that its nose landing gear contacted the powerline. The powerline was located 7 m above ground level and about 140 m from the end of the 900 m long landing strip (Figure 2).
The powerline had no markers fitted, nor were any required under the current Australian Standards for private landing strips. The owner of the landing strip advised that he routinely provided advice to pilots using the airstrip of the location of the powerline and of the need to land a significant distance down the airstrip to avoid the wire if landing from the south.
Figure 2: High level view of runway
The on-site phase of the investigation concluded on 2 November 2012. The investigation is continuing and will include analysis of the circumstances surrounding the wirestrike including, but not limited to:
- the location of the powerline in relation to the airstrip
- requirements for powerline markers
- pilots’ knowledge of the powerline’s location
- pilot distraction
- pilot visibility
- pilot experience
- the circuit flown by the pilot.
The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB’s understanding of the occurrence as outlined in the web update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.
Update 2 November 2012
The ATSB team has now completed the on-site stage of the investigation. The team has:
- examined the wreckage
- interviewed one of the passengers and the aircraft owner
- reviewed the aircraft’s maintenance logs.
The ATSB’s investigation will now continue off-site.
This page will be updated as significant information comes to hand.
The ATSB aims to finalise its investigation within 12 months.
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Update 30 October 2012
The ATSB team is on-site:
- coordinating activities with local police and Coronial staff
- interviewing witnesses
- conducting initial site assessment
- planning site activities.
29 October 2012
The ATSB has sent a team of investigators to begin the on-site phase of the investigation. The team comprises experts in engineering and aircraft operations. It is expect they will arrive mid-morning (Tuesday 30 October) and spend three to five days at the accident site.
As part of the on-site investigation, the team will be:
- examining the wreckage for evidence
- interviewing witnesses and aircraft operator
- reviewing maintenance documents.
The ATSB will also review the pilot’s training and experience and collate and analyse witness information.
If you have any information about the accident please call the ATSB on 1800 020 616.
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The aircraft landing area did not have clearly defined threshold markings making the mown undershoot area difficult to distinguish from the airstrip.
|Who it affects:||ALA owners|
The powerlines were not marked with high visibility devices, nor were they required to be so marked by the relevant Australian Standard. This reduced the likelihood of a pilot detecting the position of the wires.
|Who it affects:||ALA owners|
|Date:||29 October 2012||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1300 EST||Investigation level:||Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||13 km NE of Bendigo|
|Release date:||07 November 2013||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Cessna Aircraft Company|
|Type of operation||Private|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Coldstream, Vic.|