Aviation safety investigations & reports

Severe turbulence involving Bombardier DHC-8-402, VH-LQM, 72 km SW of Canberra Airport, ACT, on 10 October 2016

Investigation number:
AO-2016-132
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 10 October 2016, a QantasLink Bombardier DHC-8-402, registered VH-LQM, conducted a scheduled passenger flight from Melbourne, Victoria, to Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. On board the aircraft were two flight crew, two cabin crew and 70 passengers.

During the pre-flight briefing at Melbourne Airport, the flight crew noted there was severe turbulence and severe mountain wave turbulence on the weather forecast for their descent and approach to Canberra. They briefed the cabin crew to be prepared for a quick cabin service and that the seat belt sign would be activated early on the approach due to the forecast turbulence.

On descent into Canberra, the captain activated the seatbelt sign and reduced the aircraft speed to the best speed for turbulence penetration. During the descent, the flight crew did not observe any weather radar indications of potential turbulence or visible indications from the shape or movement of the clouds. However, at about 7,000 ft AMSL, while passing through a small cloud, the aircraft dropped abruptly. The flight crew reported that everything in the flight deck became airborne, the autopilot disengaged and the captain struck the left side of their head on the overhead air-vent and light.

The flight crew continued the approach without further incident and notified Canberra air traffic control of their severe turbulence encounter. The captain received minor injuries.

This incident highlights the importance of flight crew preparation for entry into an area of forecast turbulence and the importance of ensuring the correct adjustment of all harness straps. The flight crew’s preparation for the forecast turbulence minimised the risk of injury to personnel and damage to the aircraft.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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General details
Date: 10 October 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 12:40 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Canberra Airport SW 72 km    
State: Australian Capital Territory   Occurrence type: Turbulence/windshear/microburst  
Release date: 17 January 2017   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc  
Aircraft model DHC-8-402  
Aircraft registration VH-LQM  
Serial number 4450  
Operator Sunstate Airlines  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Unknown  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic.  
Destination Canberra, ACT  
Last update 14 November 2018