What happened

In the early evening of 23 September 2013, the student pilot of a Cessna Aircraft Company 182R aircraft, registered VH‑AUT, was conducting solo night circuit consolidation training at Hamilton Airport, Victoria. On the fourth circuit the pilot made a radio call indicating he was aborting the landing. Witnesses observed the aircraft climb, then turn to the right and descend, followed by a collision with terrain. The aircraft was destroyed by the impact and post‑impact fire and the pilot was fatally injured.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that following an aborted landing during circuit training in dark night conditions, the solo student pilot lost control of the aircraft, resulting in a collision with terrain. There was insufficient evidence to determine the reason for the loss of control.

The student pilot’s post-mortem examination identified a cardiac condition capable of causing incapacitation and their medical history included another condition that, if having effect at the time, had the potential to have contributed to the development of the accident. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) was unaware of either condition.

In addition, the aircraft’s flaps were found to have been in the fully-extended position at impact, which was not consistent with either the operator’s or manufacturer’s procedures for a go-around. The ATSB was unable to determine when the flaps were extended and to what extent the misconfiguration influenced the accident.

Safety message

This accident highlights the importance of the shared responsibility by holders of aviation medical certificates, examining physicians and CASA to report, assess and manage medical and other conditions as they might affect the issue/renewal of those certificates. A full understanding by CASA of an aviation medical certificate applicant’s current and prior medical conditions, and use of medications, informs the consideration and development of appropriate risk controls to ensure continued safe flight. This can include the applicant continuing in, or recommencing their participation in the industry.