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Updated: 11 August 2016

Progress of this investigation has been delayed by competing priorities and workload of the investigator in charge and team members. Following reorganisation of the investigation team, release of the draft investigation report to directly involved parties (DIP) for comment has been delayed. 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: 18 December 2015

On 6 November 2015, a Cessna Aircraft Company 310R aircraft, registered VH-BWZ, was being operated on a private flight from Moorabbin Airport to Mildura Airport, Victoria. The pilot was the only person on board.

Recordings of radio conversations between the pilot and air traffic control (ATC) indicated that, following departure from Moorabbin Airport at about 1650 Eastern Daylightsaving Time,[1] the pilot reported experiencing difficulty controlling the aircraft. As a result, ATC declared an uncertainty phase and recommended to the pilot that they land in the Melbourne area. However, at 1704 the pilot advised ATC that control had been restored and that they would proceed to Mildura. The specific nature of the control difficulties was not discussed during the radio exchange.

The flight appeared to proceed normally until arrival in the Mildura area at about 1830. Witnesses reported that, as the aircraft was on final for runway 18, it descended rapidly in a steep left turn. The aircraft subsequently collided with terrain about 1 NM (1.9 km) from the runway (Figure 1), coming to rest on high tension powerlines. A fire commenced following the impact with the ground.

The pilot was fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.

Figure 1: Mildura Airport and surrounds showing the accident site

Figure 1: Mildura Airport and surrounds showing the accident site

Source: Google earth, modified by the ATSB

Wreckage examination

Ground contact marks indicated that the left wing impacted the ground first with the high tension powerlines reducing the rate of descent during the last few metres of the aircraft’s descent. The wreckage was contained within a small area with evidence of a significant post-impact, fuel-fed fire. The left wing also sustained significant impact damage (Figure 2).

A number of aircraft components, including the left engine and propeller were recovered for technical examination.

Figure 2: Wreckage of the Cessna C310R

Figure 2: Wreckage of the Cessna C310R

Source: ATSB

The investigation is continuing and will include examination of the:

  • pilot’s qualifications and experience
  • aircraft’s maintenance records and recovered components
  • air traffic control surveillance and audio data.

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.



  1. Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDT) was Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 11 hours.


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