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Preliminary report

Summary

Published: 1 August 2017

At about 0800 Central Standard Time[1] on 28 June 2017, a SOCATA TB-10 aircraft, registered VH-YTM (YTM), departed Murray Bridge Airport for Mount Gambier Airport, South Australia.

Position and altitude information obtained from OzRunways[2] showed that the aircraft’s inbound path (Figure 1) from Murray Bridge was straight and at an altitude of about 4,500 ft. At about 42 km north-north-west of Mount Gambier Airport, the altitude decreased and there was a significant deviation from the direct route. Several manoeuvres were then made at low altitude in the vicinity of the airport, including a possible attempted landing on runway 36. After a series of low level turns, the aircraft landed on runway 29 at about 1008.

Figure 1: Approach path of VH-YTM showing the initial deviations from the direct flight path on the left, and the series of low level turns prior to landing on runway 29 on the right

Figure 1: Approach path of VH-YTM showing the initial deviations from the direct flight path on the left, and the series of low level turns prior to landing on runway 29 on the rightSource: Google Earth and OzRunways, annotated by ATSB

The pilot then refuelled the aircraft and boarded two passengers, to conduct a flight to Adelaide arranged by the charity Angel Flight Australia.[3] The flight was to be conducted as a private flight under visual flight rules (VFR).

Witnesses in the vicinity of Mount Gambier Airport reported fog in the area at the time of landing and take-off. Similarly, CCTV footage showed the fog and reduced visibility conditions at the airport at the time of landing and take-off.

OzRunways data (Figure 2) and CCTV footage showed the aircraft took off from runway 24 at about 1020. Just after take-off, YTM veered to the left of the runway, at an altitude of approximately 300 ft above mean sea level (AMSL). The aircraft reached a maximum altitude of about 500 ft, 45 seconds after take-off. The last recorded information, about 65 seconds after take-off, showed the aircraft at an altitude of 400 ft.

A number of witnesses heard a loud bang, consistent with the aircraft’s impact with terrain.

Figure 2: Flight path of VH-YTM after departing runway 24 at Mount Gambier Airport, where each vertical line represents 5 seconds, and an indication of the wreckage location

Figure 2: Flight path of VH-YTM after departing runway 24 at Mount Gambier Airport, where each vertical line represents 5 seconds, and an indication of the wreckage locationSource: Google Earth and OzRunways, annotated by ATSB

Transmissions from the pilot of YTM on approach and take-off were recorded on the common traffic advisory frequency for Mount Gambier Airport. However, no emergency call was recorded. The aircraft was not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, nor was it required.

Minutes after impact the aircraft was found by witnesses passing the accident site, and emergency services responded to the scene shortly thereafter. The aircraft wreckage was located 212 m south of the last recorded position, just over 2 km from the departure runway (Figure 2). The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured and the aircraft destroyed.

On-site examination of the wreckage and surrounding ground markings (Figure 3) indicated that the aircraft impacted terrain at approximately 30° from vertical, in an inverted attitude. The engine and propeller were located at the initial impact point. The fuselage and remainder of the aircraft had detached from the engine at the firewall, and came to rest in an upright position about 10 m beyond the engine, with the tail and wings attached. The wings had sustained significant impact damage to the leading edge. A strong smell and presence of fuel was evident at the accident site, however there was no evidence of fire. The aircraft did not have an emergency locator transmitter fitted, nor was it required. A portable locator beacon was found in the cockpit, but had not been activated.

Figure 3: Accident site looking north-west, showing the engine and propeller location alongside the left and right wing impact marks, about 10 m from the main wreckage, which is upright and facing in a north-north-easterly direction

Figure 3: Accident site looking north-west, showing the engine and propeller location alongside the left and right wing impact marks, about 10 m from the main wreckage, which is upright and facing in a north-north-easterly directionSource: ATSB

Several components and documentation were removed from the accident site for further examination by the ATSB.

The investigation is continuing and will include examination of the following:

  • recovered components and available electronic data
  • aircraft maintenance documentation
  • weather conditions
  • pilot qualifications and experience
  • coordination and planning of the charity flight
  • the use of private flights for the transfer of passengers for non-emergency medical reasons
  • similar occurrences.

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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.

 

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  1. Central Standard Time (CST) was Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) +9.5 hours.
  2. OzRunways is an electronic flight bag application that provides navigation, weather, area briefings and other flight planning information.
  3. Angel Flight Australia is a charity that coordinates non-emergency flights to assist people to access specialist medical treatment.
 
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