On 22 February 2013, VH-TGY (TGY) and VH‑TZJ (TZJ), departed a private airstrip near Bourke for Rumleigh, New South Wales. Both aircraft were to conduct aerial application (spraying) operations, which was supported by two ground personnel (mixers).
TGY landed at the Rumleigh and the mixers loaded the aircraft’s hopper. TGY departed and commenced spraying operations. Shortly after, TZJ landed at Rumleigh and was loaded. As the take‑off run on the south-eastern runway was commenced, TZJ’s fire-bombing door unexpectedly released and the 2,700 L load was jettisoned onto the ground, contaminating the runway.
About 15 minutes after, TGY landed on the north-west runway. When approaching the runway end, the pilot observed mud spraying up from the aircraft’s wheels. The aircraft then commenced sliding and turning to the left. When the left wheel contacted dry ground, the aircraft swung further left and tipped forward, resulting in the propeller contacting the ground. The aircraft then tipped backwards and the tail wheel assembly detached. TGY sustained substantial damage.
The pilot of TZJ had attempted to contact the pilot of TGY on a number of occasions, but due to an unserviceable radio in TZJ, the broadcasts were not heard. The mixers elected not to contact TGY as they were of the understanding that he had been advised of the contamination by the pilot of TZJ.
A reliable communications system can assist with improving the overall efficiency and safety of an operation. This incident highlights the impact ineffective two-way communications can have on aircraft operations, and in that case, the need to consider alternative means for warning pilots of potential ground hazards.