Sequence of events
On 18 March 2018, at about 0909 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Van’s Aircraft Inc. RV-6A, registered VH-OAJ (OAJ), took off from the Somersby aeroplane landing area (ALA), New South Wales, with only the pilot on board for a 20 minute flight to Camden. While at Camden, the pilot assisted with activities at a gliding club located on the airport. At about 1546, OAJ took off from Camden on a return flight to Somersby (Figure 1).
Image shows OAJ’s flight path in yellow. The approach to the Somersby ALA and landing flight path are inset. Source: Google earth and OzRunways, annotated by the ATSB
Approaching the Somersby ALA from the south, the pilot conducted a circuit around the airfield before descending for a landing to the north on runway 35 (Figure 1 insert). A witness located at the ALA, who was very familiar with the airfield and the aircraft, reported that he observed OAJ approaching faster than normal. The touch down point was also further down the runway than would be expected for a landing in that direction. The aircraft was also seen to bounce several times during the landing. The aircraft then ran off the end of the runway before impacting the side of a small watercourse and coming to rest (Figure 2). The witness did not observe OAJ run off the runway end.
As a result of the impact, the pilot was hospitalised with serious injuries. Two days later the pilot died from his injuries.
The pilot held a Private Pilot (Aeroplane) Licence that was issued on 22 February 1971 and last completed a review on 2 May 2017 in OAJ. The pilot held a valid Class 2 Aviation Medical Certificate and was required to wear distance vision correction and have vision correction available for reading while exercising the privileges of the licence.
The Van’s Aircraft Inc. (Van’s) RV-6A is a kit-built, two-seat aircraft with a low-wing and fixed undercarriage. Construction of OAJ was completed in 1998 and it was first registered with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on 3 June 1998. The accident pilot became the registration holder on 7 May 2007. OAJ was fitted with a Textron Lycoming O-320 piston engine.
Wreckage and impact information
The ATSB identified marks on the runway consistent with the wheels on OAJ, at the initial touchdown point described by the witness. Multiple other marks consistent with the left and right wheels skidding were identified near the end of the runway (Figure 3).
The white markers indicate the extent of the identified wheel skid marks. Source: ATSB
The on-site examination of OAJ identified that the flaps were in the fully deployed position and all flight controls were functional. The brakes were tested and found to be operational. Damage to the aircraft included:
- crushing damage to the right wingtip consistent with impact with the watercourse
- fracture and deformation of the engine mounts
- crushing of the propeller spinner
- buckling deformation of the fuselage behind the cockpit
- the control rod for the right flap was fractured, but consistent with other impact damage
- the inboard rib of the right wing had cracked, leaking some fuel.
The exact quantity of fuel on board at the time of the accident could not be determined due to leakage of some fuel, but both the left and right tanks were near full when examined.
The investigation is continuing and will include consideration of the following:
- recorded data
- witness reports
- pilot medical information
- factors that increased the potential for serious injury from the accident.
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.