Preliminary reoport released on 24 February 2015

On 16 December 2013, at approximately 1215 Eastern Standard Time, a de Havilland DH82A (Tiger Moth) aircraft, registered VH-TSG, took off from the operator’s airstrip at Pimpama, Queensland with a pilot and passenger on board. The purpose of the flight was to conduct a commercial joy flight in the Gold Coast area. At about 1224, 1 minute after the pilot commenced aerobatics, the left wings failed and the aircraft descended steeply; impacting the water about 300m from the eastern shoreline of South Stradbroke island. The aircraft was destroyed and the two occupants were fatally injured.

Preliminary examination indicated that both of the aircraft’s fuselage lateral tie rods, which join the lower wings to the fuselage, had fractured at areas of significant, pre-existing fatigue cracking in the threaded section near the join with the left wing. These tie rods, part number JRA-776-1, were manufactured under an Australian Parts Manufacturing Approval.

The ATSB has not, at this preliminary stage of its investigation, determined whether the failure of the fuselage lateral tie rods, or another mode of wing structural failure, was the initiator of the left wing separations. However, this Preliminary Report includes a safety issue that advises of the JRA-776-1 tie rod fatigue cracking and includes a Safety Advisory Notice to Tiger Moth operators about this safety issue.