Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving BRM Aero s.r.o. Bristell S-LSA, VH-YVX, near Stawell, Victoria, on 5 October 2018

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress

Preliminary report

Preliminary report published: 21 November 2018

What happened

On 5 October 2018, at about 1120 Eastern Daylight‑saving Time,[1] a Bristell Light Sport Aircraft, registered VH-YVX, departed Moorabbin Airport, Victoria, with a pilot and passenger onboard. The purpose of the flight was a navigation exercise in support of the pilot’s commercial pilot training requirements. The passenger held a student pilot licence but his aviation medical certificate was not current.

At about 1240, following an overfly of the intended waypoint at Stawell Airport, the aircraft was observed by witnesses to conduct a 180° turn towards the east at about 1,500 ft above ground level (Figure 1). Following the turn the aircraft was observed to commence a number of manoeuvres before entering a spin. The pilot was unable to recover control of the aircraft before it impacted terrain.

Figure 1: Aircraft’s flight path and accident site location

Figure 1: Aircraft’s flight path and accident site location. Source: Google earth, with Airservices surveillance radar data. Annotated by the ATSB

Source: Google earth, with Airservices surveillance radar data. Modified by the ATSB

A witness at the aerodrome notified emergency services about the accident. Two other witnesses at the aerodrome utilised an aircraft to locate the accident site, and guided the emergency services to its location. The pilot and passenger sustained significant injuries and were airlifted to hospital. The aircraft was destroyed.

Site and wreckage examination

The ATSB conducted an examination of the accident site and wreckage (Figure 2). This examination identified that the:

  • aircraft was located in relatively flat and open farmland, which was about 1.7 km south‑east of Stawell Airport
  • ground impact marks indicated that the aircraft had impacted terrain in a relatively flat, upright, counter clock-wise spin
  • flaps were in the retracted position
  • elevator trim was in a neutral position.

No pre-impact defects were identified with the flight controls or aircraft structure.

A panel‑mounted avionics unit was removed from the aircraft and taken to the ATSB’s technical facility in Canberra for examination. The stored information was successfully downloaded and included numerous flight and engine parameters recorded during the accident flight.

Figure 2: Accident site of Bristell Light Sport Aircraft, registered VH-YVX

Figure 2: Accident site Bristell Light Sport Aircraft, registered VH-YVX. Source: ATSB

Source: ATSB

Ongoing investigation

The investigation is continuing and will include:

  • interviews with parties involved in the accident
  • analysis of the downloaded data from the avionics unit and other electronic devices
  • examination of the pilot’s qualifications, experience and medical history
  • assessment of the aircraft’s flight performance characteristics
  • examination of aircraft maintenance and operational records
  • examination of the training organisation records and procedures.



The information contained in this preliminary report 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 update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.



  1. Eastern Daylightsaving Time (AEDT): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 11 hours.


The ATSB is investigating a collision with terrain involving a BRM Aero S.R.O. Bristell S-LSA, VH-YVX, near Stawell, Victoria on 5 October 2018.

The aircraft collided with terrain and the pilot and passenger were seriously injured. Four investigators from Brisbane and Canberra travelled to the accident site to begin the evidence collection phase of the investigation. This will include the examination of the wreckage, interviewing witnesses, and obtaining any available recorded data for analysis, amongst other activities.

A report will be published at the completion of the investigation. However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties.

General details
Date: 05 October 2018   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 1300 AEST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 1.7 km SE Stawell Airport   Investigation phase: Examination and analysis  
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 21 November 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Preliminary   Highest injury level: Serious  
Anticipated completion: 4th Quarter 2019    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft model BRM Aero Bristell S-LSA  
Aircraft registration VH-YVX  
Serial number 284  
Operator Soar Aviation  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Moorabbin, Vic.  
Destination Moorabbin, Vic.  
Last update 15 April 2019