Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control and collision with terrain involving de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth, VH-UZB, near Pimpama Airfield, Queensland on 28 December 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

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What happened

On the morning of 28 December 2015, a DH82A Tiger Moth, registered VH-UZB, departed Pimpama Airfield, Queensland for an adventure flight. The pilot had assessed the weather as suitable, with a headwind of 10‑15 kt straight down the intended take-off airstrip.

Shortly after take-off, the pilot manoeuvred at low level, to remain over the clearest terrain for the climb out. At an altitude of between 200 and 300 ft, the engine power unexpectedly reduced. In response, the pilot made a left turn during which the aircraft entered an incipient spin. The pilot reported attempting to recover from the spin, however, the aircraft collided with terrain. The passenger was fatally injured and the pilot sustained serious injuries. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB examined the aircraft’s engine, its components and fuel system, but was unable to determine the reason for the partial power loss. The investigation also found that when the aircraft entered the spin, there was insufficient height to recover before ground contact.

Safety message

The partial power loss of an aircraft’s engine presents a more complex scenario than a complete power loss, where a forced landing is inevitable. The scenario is further complicated when the partial loss occurs shortly after take-off. Further, in a partial power loss situation, the power may continue to deteriorate and/or stay at the same reduced level and/or return to normal.

Prior to take-off, pilots should consider options and actions in the event of a partial power loss. Factors to consider should include their piloting skills, experience, conditions on the day and the aircraft type-specific characteristics to decide a height below which a forced landing straight ahead is required, should a partial or complete power loss occur. Self-briefing on this subject before take‑off reduces the decision-making load if a power loss does occur.

When an emergency landing is required, flying the aircraft in a controlled manner, wings level and at the recommended glide speed has a better survivability outcome than when control of the aircraft is lost.

DH82A Tiger Moth, registered VH-UZB

Figure 2: DH82A Tiger Moth, registered VH-UZB. Source: Supplied


Source: Supplied

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 1.52MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 28 December 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0907 AEST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Pimpama Airstrip   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 01 March 2019   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model DH-82A  
Aircraft registration VH-UZB  
Serial number 291  
Operator Gold Coast Aerobatic Adventures  
Type of operation General Aviation  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Pimpama Airfield, Queensland  
Last update 03 April 2020