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Summary

Summary

Updated: 25 August 2017

Competing work priorities of the investigation team has affected the completion date of this investigation.

The report is now anticipated for release to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment in October 2017. Feedback from those parties over the 28-day DIP period on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report.

 

Updated: 3 April 2017

Completion of the additional investigative work and draft report has been impacted by the deployment of the investigator in charge in support of the on-site phase of a number of other investigations.

The report is now anticipated for release to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment in May 2017. Feedback from those parties over the 28-day DIP period on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report.

 

Updated: 15 November 2016

Completion of the draft investigation report has been delayed by competing team member priorities, workload and the requirement for additional investigative work. This includes:

  • flight data analysis
  • research and testing of the avionics and autopilot systems
  • liaison with the aircraft and avionics manufacturer, and the pilot’s training organisation.

The report is now anticipated for release to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment in February 2017. Feedback from those parties over the 28-day DIP period on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report.

 

Updated: 14 July 2016

Completion of the draft investigation report has been delayed by competing team member priorities and workload and the requirement for additional investigative work. This includes seeking further information from the aircraft’s avionics manufacturer and the pilot’s training organisation.

The report is now anticipated for release to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment in October 2015. Feedback from those parties over the 28-day DIP period on the factual accuracy of the draft report will be considered for inclusion in the final report, which is anticipated to be released to the public in December 2016.

 

Updated: 13 October 2015

At about 1410 Eastern Standard Time[1] on 8 September 2015, the pilot of a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, registered VH-ZEW, departed Point Cook Airport on a return solo navigational training flight via Ballarat, Victoria.

Witnesses stated that at about 1542 they observed the aircraft approaching Black Hill, near Millbrook, about 14 NM (26 km) east-south-east of Ballarat Airport. A number of witnesses reported seeing the aircraft flying ‘very low’ and hearing an increase in power prior to the aircraft cresting the hill. Engine power was reported by witnesses to have changed a few times before the aircraft disappeared from sight. No witnesses reported seeing the aircraft collide with terrain (Figure 1). The pilot sustained fatal injuries and the aircraft was destroyed.

Figure 1: Accident site and wreckage of Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, VH-ZEW

Figure 1: Accident site and wreckage of Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, VH-ZEW

Source: ATSB

Wreckage examination

Site and wreckage examination indicated that the aircraft impacted terrain on a 20° upslope. The aircraft came to rest about 60 m from the initial impact point (Figure 2). There was no fire.

Figure 2: Accident site, showing the initial point of impact and wreckage trail

Source: ATSB

The aircraft’s structure was significantly disrupted during the impact sequence. The propeller separated from the engine and showed signs of rotational damage.

The aircraft was fitted with an integrated flight control system that was capable of recording data such as flight and engine parameters. The integrated flight data log memory card from this system was located in the wreckage trail.

Aircraft components examination

A number of aircraft items and components, including the integrated flight data log memory card, were recovered for examination at the ATSB’s technical facility in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

The integrated flight data log memory card was successfully downloaded, showing flight and engine parameters at 1-second intervals up to about 10 seconds before the impact with terrain. The premature termination of the recording was attributed to power supply disconnection due to impact forces, rather than normal system shut down.

The investigation is continuing and will include examination of:

  • data from the aircraft’s global positioning system equipment
  • the aircraft’s maintenance documents
  • the pilot’s flying and training records
  • the meteorological information affecting the flight
  • relevant organisational information.

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The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this web update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.

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  1. Eastern Standard Time (EST) was Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +10 hours.
 
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