Aviation occurrence briefs

Severe turbulence involving de Havilland DHC-8, Dubbo, NSW, on 20 December 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 20 December 2018, a de Havilland DHC-8 was traveling from Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) to Dubbo, NSW on a regular public transport flight. During approach to runway 23 at Dubbo, the aircraft encountered heavy showers and unexpected moderate to severe turbulence. The crew disengaged the autopilot and commenced a missed approach procedure. During the missed approach, the aircraft’s indicated airspeed (IAS) dropped to 100, and the crew received a momentary stick shaker alert. While climbing through 3,700 ft, the aircraft again encountered severe turbulence.

After landing, damage to the empennage was evident, with oil canning on the skin of the aircraft. Minor damage between the rudder and elevator was also observed. There were no reported injuries to passengers or crew; however, some passengers reported feeling airsick.

Safety message

The ATSB research report, Staying safe against in-flight turbulence (AR-2008-034), details that while turbulence is normal and occurs frequently, it can be dangerous. Turbulence is rarely a threat to passenger aircraft or to pilot control of the aircraft. In a typical turbulence incident, 99 per cent of people on board receive no injuries. The report outlines what steps passengers can take to mitigate the risk of injury during turbulence.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 20 December 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1651 EDT    
Location   (show map): Dubbo    
State: New South Wales    
Release Date: 03 May 2019   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model DHC-8-202  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Dubbo, NSW  
Last update 03 May 2019