ATSB releases progress update from on-going investigation into Carcoar collision with terrain accident

Aircraft wreckage

Key points:

  • Investigation update details sequence of events and areas of on-going investigation
  • Aircraft was conducting a check ahead of a CPL flight test
  • Wreckage examination found no evidence of pre-existing faults or failures


The ATSB will analyse data from the pilots’ personal electronic devices and evaluate witness information as part of its on-going investigation into the fatal accident of an Aquila training aircraft south of Orange, Central West New South Wales, on 4 November 2020.

An instructor and a student pilot undergoing a check flight prior to undertaking a commercial pilot licence flight test were on-board the aircraft when it collided with the ground shortly after departing a private airstrip at the Coombing Park property, near Carcoar, south of Orange.

The investigation update notes that the aircraft impacted the bank of a small dam, located on rising terrain about 600 metres beyond the end of the runway and about 30° to the left of the runway centreline.

“To date, the ATSB has examined the aircraft wreckage, interviewed witnesses, and retrieved personal electronic devices and aircraft components from the accident site,” said ATSB Acting Director Transport Safety Kerri Hughes.

“On-site examination of the aircraft’s flight controls, engine and structure did not identify any pre‑existing faults or failures,” she said.

“In addition, evidence of fuel spillage at the accident site indicated that the aircraft had fuel onboard, while the presence of fuel in the fuel filters indicated the engine had fuel supply at the time of the accident.” 

The investigation update also notes that the recorded weather at nearby Orange Airport at the time of the accident included visibility of greater than 10 km with no cloud detected, and an 11 knot wind from the west.

Ms Hughes noted the progress update does not include any safety findings or analysis, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report.

“As well as analysis of electronic data from the pilot’s personal electronic devices and considering witness information, the ATSB will also examine a number of recovered aircraft components and analyse the aircraft’s maintenance history, weight and balance, and performance,” she said.

“The ATSB will also examine flight planning for the accident flight; the operator’s policies and procedures; and review pilot qualifications, experience and medical information.”

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

“However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” Ms Hughes noted.

Read the investigation progress update.

Last update 19 January 2021

Investigation Update

Collision with terrain involving Aquila AT01, VH-OIS, 27 km south of Orange, New South Wales, on 4 November 2020