Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of control and collision with terrain involving FU24 Stallion, VH-EUO, 40 km north-east of Bathurst, New South Wales, on 16 June 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 2.2MB]

What happened

On 16 June 2017, a Pacific Aerospace Limited FU24 Stallion, registered VH-EUO, was conducting aerial agricultural operations from an airstrip 40 km north‑east of Bathurst, New South Wales. The purpose of the operations was to apply fertiliser and seed to private grazing land.

At about 1405 Eastern Standard Time,[1] the aircraft took off from the airstrip for the second flight of the second job of the day. When the aircraft did not return as expected, the loader raised the alarm and a search for the aircraft commenced at approximately 1600. Early the next morning, the wreckage of the aircraft was found in dense scrubland to the east of the application area. The pilot received fatal injuries as a result of the collision with terrain.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that shortly after the end of the third application run, the aircraft was flown into an area of rising terrain that was outside the normal operating area for that job site. While subsequently repositioning the aircraft for the fourth application run, it was likely that the aircraft aerodynamically stalled leading to a collision with terrain. Based on the available evidence, it was not possible to determine the reason for the loss of control.

Additionally, there was no evidence of any in-flight failure of the airframe structure or flight control systems. The engine appeared to have been producing significant power at impact.

Safety message

Operators and pilots are reminded of the dangers of aerial application near rising terrain and the importance of pre-flight planning of application runs to account for nearby terrain. Although it could not be established that not dumping the hopper contributed to this accident, in an emergency, reducing the aircraft’s weight by dumping the hopper load will optimise an aircraft’s flight performance.

The Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA) have published strategies in their pilot’s manual. With regard to the dumping of the load, the manual states ‘The only safe rule is ‘if in doubt, dump’.’


  1. Eastern Standard Time (EST): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 10 hours.
Download final report
[Download  PDF: 2.2MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


General details

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 16 June 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1406 EST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Upper Turon, 40 km north-east of Bathurst   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 19 May 2020   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airparts NZ Ltd  
Aircraft model FU-24 Stallion  
Aircraft registration VH-EUO  
Serial number 3002  
Operator Airspread  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Red Hill Airstrip, NSW  
Destination Red Hill Airstrip, NSW  
Last update 20 July 2020