What happened

On 18 October 2013, the pilot of an Ayres Corporation S2R Thrush, registered VH-JAY, was conducting aerial agricultural spraying activities on a property near Hyden, Western Australia. At about 1330, following the completion of a number of spray runs and a break for lunch, the pilot departed to complete further spraying. Following the failure of the aircraft to return, a search was initiated. The aircraft wreckage was found a short time later about 1,700 m from the departure airstrip. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot was fatally injured.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the aircraft departed controlled flight from which the pilot was unable to recover, leading to the collision with terrain. On the basis of the available evidence, it was not possible to determine the reasons for the loss of control.

The ATSB identified two aspects of the aircraft’s operation which had the potential to adversely affect safety. These were the use of an unapproved fuel mix and operation of the aircraft above its published maximum take-off weight.

Safety message

Operators and pilots are reminded of the dangers of operating aircraft engines on an unapproved fuel mix as this increases the likelihood of engine damage which could affect the safety of operations. Pilots and operators are also reminded of the need to adhere to an aircraft’s maximum take-off weight to ensure the on-going safety of the aircraft and operations.