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What happened

On the morning of 29 June 2014, the pilot of a de Havilland Canada DHC-1 T Mk 10 Chipmunk aircraft, registered VH-UPD, was taking a passenger for a brief, private flight over Coffs Harbour Regional Airport, New South Wales.

According to pilot and passenger reports, after conducting a series of aerobatic manoeuvres, the pilot climbed to about 3,800 ft and accelerated to about 85 kt. The pilot then made a short dive to build up speed to about 120 kt before commencing a loop.

At the top of the loop, the aircraft stalled while inverted, most likely as the result of excessive elevator input. The aircraft rolled and entered an upright spin, which became flatter as it developed. Later, the pilot reported that attempts to recover were unsuccessful. The spin continued until the aircraft impacted terrain. The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries and the aircraft was seriously damaged. There was no fire.

What the ATSB found

The pilot reported undertaking training to conduct loops, but there was no record of an endorsement and the instructor did not recall approving the pilot to conduct loops. As a result, at the time of the accident, the pilot likely did not possess the necessary skills and judgement to conduct the manoeuvre safely and consistently.

The pilot probably did not apply and maintain the spin recovery control inputs appropriate for a fully-developed spin in a Chipmunk aircraft. Furthermore, the pilot was taught a spin recovery method that was not effective for recovering from such spins in the aircraft.

In addition, the accident aircraft’s flight manual had not been approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and did not include advice on spin recovery. The mandatory, Civil Aviation Safety Authority-approved flight manual contained spin recovery advice.

What's been done as a result

The flying school that provided the pilot’s aerobatic training reported that a briefing process was undertaken with all current aerobatic instructors to ensure that consistent terminology is used to describe and teach aerobatic manoeuvres. It also reported that a programme of standardisation flights for all current aerobatic instructors will include the training of spin and unusual attitude recovery for aerobatic students.

Safety message

Pilots and instructors, particularly those intending to conduct or teach aerobatic manoeuvres, should be familiar with any special handling requirements for a particular aircraft type as well as recovery from both incipient and developed spins. Furthermore, they should ensure that they hold the appropriate aerobatic endorsement before attempting a manoeuvre.

VH-UPD accident site

VH-UPD accident site

Source: ATSB

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The occurrence

Context

Safety analysis

Findings

Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

Appendices

 
 

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Safety issue

AO-2014-114-SI-01 -  

Flying school spin recovery training

The spin recovery methods taught by the flying school were inconsistent across instructors and training material, and were not always appropriate for the Chipmunk aircraft type used by the school.

Safety issue details
Issue number:AO-2014-114-SI-01
Who it affects:Instructors and student pilots undertaking aerobatic and spin recovery instruction
Status:Adequately addressed

 
General details
Date: 29 Jun 2014 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1136 EST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Coffs Harbour Airport, SE 1 km Occurrence type:Collision with terrain 
State: New South Wales Occurrence class: Operational 
Release date: 04 Feb 2016 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Serious 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: de Havilland Canada 
Aircraft model: DHC-1 T MK 10 
Aircraft registration: VH-UPD 
Serial number: C1/0111 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Coffs Harbour, NSW
Destination:Coffs Harbour, NSW
 
 
 
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Last update 04 February 2016