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On 26 January 2017, the pilot of a Grumman American Aviation Corp G-73 amphibian aircraft, registered VH‑CQA (CQA), was participating in an air display as part of the City of Perth Australia Day Skyworks event. On board were the pilot and a passenger. The weather was fine with a recorded wind of about 20 km/hr from the south-west and a temperature of about 39 °C.

The pilot of CQA was flying ‘in company’ with a Cessna Caravan amphibian and conducted a series of circuits that included low-level fly-pasts of the Langley Park foreshore (Figure 1). After the second fly-past, the pilot of CQA commenced a third circuit, while the Caravan departed the area.

Figure 1: CQA air display flight track, showing the first fly-past in yellow, the second in magenta and the third in red

Figure 1: CQA air display flight track, showing the first fly-past in yellow, the second in magenta and the third in red

Source: OzRunways Pty. Ltd., modified by the ATSB

As part of the third circuit, the pilot of CQA flew in an easterly direction, parallel with the South Perth foreshore, before commencing a left turn. This would have facilitated a third pass in a westerly direction along the Langley Park foreshore. During the left turn, CQA rolled left and pitched nose down, consistent with an aerodynamic stall[1] (Figure 2). The aircraft collided with the water and broke up. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

Figure 2: CQA just prior to the collision with water (looking north)

Figure 2: CQA just prior to the collision with water (looking north)

Source: Mike Graham

The ATSB completed the on-site phase of its investigation on 4 February 2017. No pre-existing aircraft defects, which may have contributed to the collision with water, were identified. The ATSB has retained several items and components from the aircraft for further examination. This includes a fuel totaliser, a navigation unit and a mobile phone.

The investigation is continuing and will include:

  • examination of numerous witness reports and images and a significant quantity of video footage taken on the day by members of the public, media outlets and so on
  • review of the aircraft’s maintenance records, operational records for recent flights and pilot training records
  • review of the meteorological conditions at the time
  • an examination of aircraft performance and other operational factors
  • further examination of the recorded flight radar, radio and Global Positioning System data
  • review of the planning, approval and oversight of the air display, including a focus on safety and risk management practices.

Should any critical safety issues emerge during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately bring those issues to the attention of the relevant authorities or organisations. This will allow those authorities and organisations to consider safety action to address the safety issues. Details of such safety issues and any safety action in response will be published on the ATSB website at www.atsb.gov.au.



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. Aerodynamic stall: occurs when the airflow separates from the wing’s upper surface and becomes turbulent. A stall occurs at high angles of attack, typically 16˚ to 18˚, and results in reduced lift.


Updated: 30 January 2017

The ATSB has deployed two additional specialists to investigate the collision with water involving Grumman American Aviation Corp G-73, registered VH-CQA, on 26 January 2017.

A Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) and a Human Factors specialist have arrived from Canberra to join the ATSB team in Perth.

The investigation will continue in detail, seeking information and data on meteorological conditions on the day, as well as examining pilot and maintenance documentation.

The ATSB will also seek recorded radar and radio information from AirServices Australia.

The ATSB has assisted the WA Department of Transport (Marine) recover the wreckage to enable the investigation to continue. The investigation may take up to a year to complete.

The ATSB is grateful to the many witnesses who have provided written, photographic and video evidence of the aircraft immediately prior to, during and after the accident. Investigators will contact witnesses as soon as they are able.




Published: 27 January 2017

The ATSB is investigation the collision with water involving Grumman American Aviation Corp G-73, registered VH-CQA, 10 km WSW of Perth Airport, Western Australia on 26 January 2017.

While overflying the Swan River near the Perth CBD, the aircraft crashed into water destroying the aircraft and resulting in fatal injuries to the pilot and one passenger.

The ATSB deployed two investigators who arrived at the accident site during the afternoon of Thursday 26 January 2017. Over the next few days they will examine the accident site, interview witnesses, and collect maintenance and pilot records, and air traffic control recorded data.

The investigators are seeking witness reports and video recordings that might assist the investigation. Witnesses are requested to contact the ATSB on 1800 020 616 or email ATSBinfo@atsb.gov.au.

General details
Date: 26 January 2017 Investigation status: Active 
Time: 17:08 WST Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Swan River, Perth Occurrence type:Collision with terrain 
State: Western Australia Occurrence class: Operational 
Release date: 08 March 2017 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Pending Highest injury level: Fatal 
Expected completion: January 2018  
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Grumman American Aviation Corp 
Aircraft model: G-73 Mallard (amphibious) 
Aircraft registration: VH-CQA 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
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Last update 12 April 2017