Final Report


What happened

On 25 September 2015, a Cessna 550 aircraft (Citation Bravo), registered VH-FGK, taxied at Lismore Airport for a private flight to Baryulgil, New South Wales. The flight crew consisted of a captain and copilot, who were the only occupants of the aircraft.

The flight crew did not detect anything abnormal during the taxi and take-off roll, until the captain attempted to rotate the aircraft to the take-off pitch attitude. When the aircraft had achieved the required rotate speed, the captain applied the normal backpressure on the control column to achieve a standard rate of rotation, and the aircraft did not rotate. The captain then applied full backpressure and reported that the controls felt very heavy. Neither the captain nor the copilot detected any change in the aircraft’s pitch attitude or any indication of pitch-up on the attitude direction indicator.

The captain rejected the take-off, applied full braking and reverse thrust, but the aircraft overran the runway. The nose landing gear detached from the aircraft about 50 m beyond the end of the sealed runway, and the aircraft came to rest in long grass and mud. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, and the captain and copilot were uninjured.

What the ATSB found

The aircraft did not accelerate normally as the acceleration was retarded by drag associated with rolling friction. This was indicative of partial brake pressure remaining during the take-off run. The partial brake pressure was possibly due to the parking brake being selected on at the holding point with enough pressure to retard aircraft acceleration during the take-off, but not sufficient to prevent the aircraft reaching rotate speed.

Furthermore, the nose-down moment generated by the partial brake pressure probably prevented the aircraft rotating sufficiently to become airborne, despite normal nose-up elevator deflection.

Heat in the brakes due to partial pressure during the take-off run may have reduced their effectiveness when the captain rejected the take-off, contributing to the runway overrun.

What has been done as a result

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued a safety recommendation that Textron Aviation (Cessna) take safety action to address the fact that Citation aircraft do not have an annunciator light to show that the parking brake is engaged and the Cessna 'before take-off' checklist does not include a check to ensure the parking brake is disengaged.

Safety message

For pilots, this incident highlights the importance of attention to the configuration of the aircraft and cockpit settings at all stages of flight, but particularly during take-off. For manufacturers, this incident highlights the importance of systems that bring an irregular or abnormal configuration or cockpit setting to the attention of the crew, especially when that configuration has the potential to adversely affect aircraft performance or control.

Accident site of Cessna 550 aircraft (Citation Bravo), registered VH-FGK, at Lismore Airport

Accident site. Source: Aircraft owner
Source: Aircraft operator

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions