Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of operator control involving an Aeronavics SkyJib 8 remotely piloted aircraft near the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, VIC on 29 March 2015

Investigation number:
AO-2015-035
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 29 March 2015, an Aeronavics SkyJib 8 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) was being used to assist with media coverage of the International Cricket Council World Cup Final, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne, Victoria. The operating team launched the RPA from the top of the south-western scoreboard of the MCG at about 1430 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, to capture footage of the MCG and surrounds as the competing teams entered the MCG and during the pre-match ceremonies.

The RPA was flown slowly southward from the MCG toward Hisense Arena, following a similar route to that flown during earlier flights, without incident. About 2 minutes into the flight, with the RPA over the northern roof of Hisense Arena, the operating crew lost control of the RPA. The crew commenced alternate recovery procedures, but were unable to re-establish control. The RPA ultimately collided with terrain just to the south of Rod Laver Arena. There were no injuries to people on the ground, and no damage to other property, but the RPA and associated equipment were substantially damaged.

The operator’s investigation into the accident concluded that radio frequency interference was the most likely cause of the accident. This conclusion was based on the behaviour of the RPA and the absence of any evidence of a control system or hardware fault. The volume of radio frequency traffic at the time of the accident was probably substantial, and perhaps sufficient to override RPA control signals under the prevailing conditions. The operator acknowledged that further testing and analysis was required before the primary cause of the accident could be confirmed beyond doubt.

This accident highlights the need for careful consideration of ‘what might be different this time’ during risk assessments, including the identification of appropriate risk mitigation strategies. Although the operator had conducted a risk assessment for the accident flight, the possible effects of a substantial increase in the volume of radio frequency traffic had not been specifically considered.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 42

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General details
Date: 29 March 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1430 ESuT    
Location   (show map): Melbourne Cricket Ground   Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation  
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 27 August 2015   Occurrence class: Airspace  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft model SkyJib 3  
Aircraft registration N/A  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Remotely piloted aircraft  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Last update 14 November 2018