Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wheels up landing involving a Piper PA-24-260, VH-DRB at Albany Airport, WA on 11 April 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 11 April 2013, a Piper PA-24-260, registered VH-DRB (DRB), departed Albany Airport, Western Australia, to conduct an annual aeroplane flight review, with the pilot and testing officer on board.

After conducting the aerial work component of the flight review, DRB returned to the circuit and did two touch and go circuits on runway 14. On take-off the testing officer informed the pilot that the circuit would be at low-level for a full stop landing. On early downwind, the testing officer asked the pilot if a glide approach could be made for runway 23 and the decision was made to conduct a practice forced landing on runway 23. The pilot moved the throttle lever to reduce engine power and extended the flaps to slow the aircraft. On final, the testing officer thought she saw the pilot move his hand to the landing gear selector. The aircraft subsequently landed with the landing gear retracted just past the intersection with runway 14/32, skidded and then came to a stop. The pilot and testing officer were not injured and the aircraft sustained minor damage.

As the landing for runway 23 was initiated during a low-level circuit and on early downwind, the pilot reported that he was not following his normal pre-landing sequence.

The approach appeared a little fast, however, the pilot reasoned that it was because the aircraft type normally floated a little on landing and there was a slight crosswind that may have had a small tailwind component.

The testing officer also reported the approach looked a little fast and reasoned that was because the runway has a slight down slope, there may have been a small tailwind component and it was similar to the speed of the prior flapless landing.

This accident highlights that when practicing emergency procedures the defences that are usually in place, such as having a normal place in the circuit to put the gear down, audible alarms and checklist items can be missed or go un-actioned.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue 20

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General details
Date: 11 April 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1100 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Albany Airport    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Wheels up landing  
Release date: 28 June 2013   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-24  
Aircraft registration VH-DRB  
Serial number 24-4984  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Albany, WA  
Destination Albany, WA  
Last update 14 November 2018