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On the afternoon of 23 March 2017, the pilot of Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 aircraft, VH-AZH, prepared for a departure from Avoid Island aeroplane landing area (ALA), Queensland (Qld) for a passenger charter flight to Mackay, Qld.

The pilot observed a 5–10 kt wind from the south-east and elected to use runway 14 for take-off. Runway 14 was a grass runway, 800 m long and included a slight rise in the middle. At the end of the runway was a vertical drop of about 2 meters down to a rocky beach.

At about 1555 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot commenced the take-off. As the aircraft approached the end of the runway, just prior to reaching the rotation speed, the pilot felt a significant deceleration. The pilot identified that insufficient runway remained to stop the aircraft, and elected to continue the take-off.

The aircraft did not take-off before overrunning the runway and became airborne as it passed over the vertical drop at a speed of about 50 kt. The aircraft was unable to maintain height and descended until the landing gear and underside of the rear fuselage impacted rocks.

The pilot suffered a fractured ankle, the passengers were uninjured in the accident.

This accident shows the varied challenges of operating from an ALA. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority advisory publication: CAAP 92-1 Guidance for aeroplane landing areas provides the following information on the use of ALAs:

The surface of a landing area should be assessed to determine its effect on aeroplane control and performance. For example, soft surfaces or the presence of long grass (over 150 mm) will increase take-off distances while moisture, loose gravel or any material that reduces braking effectiveness will increase landing distance.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin Issue 61

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General details
Date: 23 March 2017 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 15:55 EST  
Location   (show map):Hollins Bay (ALA), NW 50 km (Avoid Island) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Runway excursion 
Release date: 27 July 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Serious 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd 
Aircraft model: GA-8 
Aircraft registration: VH-AZH 
Serial number: GA8-07-111 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Avoid Island, Qld
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Last update 14 November 2018