Final Report


On 2 July 2016, at about 1420 Eastern Standard Time, a de Havilland DH-82A aircraft, registered VH-ARU, departed Shute Harbour aircraft landing area (ALA), Queensland, for an aerobatic joy flight. On board were a pilot and one passenger.

When the aircraft reached about 4,500 ft over water, the pilot reported that they raised the aircraft nose and reduced the throttle to idle. The aircraft then pitched nose-down and the pilot initiated a rotation to the left. After about one and a half rotations, the pilot levelled the aircraft wings and stopped the rotation. As the airspeed was then about 110 kt, which was the entry speed for the next manoeuvre (a loop), the pilot raised the aircraft nose and applied full power as the nose passed the horizon.

The pilot and passenger then heard a bang. The pilot discontinued the manoeuvre and stabilised the aircraft in a glide attitude. As the aircraft continued to descend, the pilot elected to return to Shute Harbour ALA. The aircraft was not vibrating, the tachometer was indicating maximum RPM and the engine was not producing any thrust. The pilot advised ATC that they were returning to Shute Harbour, but did not declare an emergency.

The pilot assessed that they were not going to be able to reach the ALA and conducted a forced landing onto the mudflats at Funnel Bay. After landing, as the pilot inspected the aircraft, they noticed that the propeller was missing.

The pilot was uninjured and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The aircraft sustained substantial damage.

This incident highlights the value of always having a consideration of landing areas available in case a forced landing is required. Alerting air traffic control as emergencies arise enables them to provide the necessary and appropriate assistance.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 54

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