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On 18 June 2016, the pilot flying and a check pilot (who was the pilot in command) of a Pilatus PC-12 47E aircraft, registered VH-OWA (OWA), prepared to conduct a medical retrieval flight from Meekatharra Airport to Paraburdoo, Western Australia. 

The aircraft took off from runway 09 at about 0145 Western Standard Time. About 18 seconds after take-off, as the aircraft climbed through about 250 ft above ground level, the pilots observed the radio altimeter (radalt) wind down to zero. The radalt low altitude awareness display rose to meet the altitude readout.

The synthetic vision image on both pilots’ primary flight displays (PFDs) then showed the runway move rapidly left and off the screen, and the ground representation on the PFD appeared to rise rapidly up to meet the zero pitch reference line. 

The pilot flying reported that the synthetic vision image created the impression that the aircraft was sinking rapidly towards the ground, and they responded by instinctively pulling back on the control column. The flight path indicator moved up to about 15°. No warnings or cautions were displayed and the crew did not receive any oral alerts from the terrain awareness and warning system.   

The check pilot immediately looked outside and was able to discern a visible horizon due to the moonlight. The check pilot cautioned the pilot flying that the aircraft had a nose-high attitude, which prompted the pilot flying to switch their focus to the electronic standby instrument system and closely monitor the attitude and the airspeed tape. The pilot flying lowered the aircraft nose to regain an 8° pitch attitude and the airspeed, which had reduced to 101 kt, increased back to the target airspeed of 110 kt. The aircraft had continued to climb throughout the event and passing 850 ft all indications returned to normal. The aircraft subsequently landed at Paraburdoo Airport without further incident.

Incorrect instrument indications that are not associated with a failure mode present pilots with a complex and challenging situation.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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General details
Date: 18 June 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 01:47 WST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Meekatharra Aerodrome Occurrence type:Avionics/flight instruments 
State: Western Australia Occurrence class: Technical 
Release date: 17 January 2017 Occurrence category: Incident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: None 
 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd 
Aircraft model: PC-12/47E 
Aircraft registration: VH-OWA 
Serial number: 1115 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Sector: Turboprop 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Meekatharra, WA
Destination:Paraburdoo, WA
 
 
 
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Last update 18 April 2017