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Final Report

Summary

On 1 September 2015, a Cessna 180C aircraft, registered VH-FDH, departed Normanton for Karumba Airport Queensland at about 1435 Eastern Standard Time. The pilot and two passengers were on board for the private flight. The aircraft had a tail wheel landing gear and the landing technique planned to be used was a wheel landing.

At Normanton, the aircraft was refuelled and departed at almost maximum take-off weight. The aircraft climbed to about 1,000 feet for the short distance to Kurumba. On approaching Kurumba, the pilot contacted another pilot who had just landed at Kurumba to ascertain the weather conditions. The pilot of the aircraft that just landed indicated that the wind was directly across the runway from the north-west and either runway direction would be suitable for a landing. They decided to land on runway 21 and joined the circuit on the downwind leg. On downwind the windsock was observed and confirmed that the wind direction was directly across the runway from the north-west and the pilot estimated the wind speed to be about 10 knots.

The main wheels touched down firmly on the runway and the aircraft bounced about 3 to 4 feet. The main wheels touched again at about the same time as the pilot noted that the nose of the aircraft started to move to the right. The tail continued to move quickly around (ground loop), before the pilot could take any other action. The left main landing gear failed, the left wing folded up and the fuselage tilted onto its side where the aircraft skidded a short distance to a stop. The pilot received minor injuries and the two passengers were uninjured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

The US Federal Aviation Administration discusses in their publication Airplane Flying Handbook Chapter 13 Transition to Tailwheel Airplanesthe importance to land with the aircraft in the longitudinal axis exactly parallel to the direction the aircraft is moving along the runway. If the aircraft lands while in a crab or while drifting, it imposes severe side loads on the landing gear and imparts ground looping (swerving) tendencies.

 

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 48

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