ATSB releases Sutton Cessna 172 power line survey accident preliminary report

Flight path of VH-DLA

The ATSB has released a preliminary report from its on-going investigation into a fatal accident involving a Cessna 172 light aircraft conducting power line survey work near Sutton, north of Canberra, on 13 April 2021.

The report details that the aircraft, a Cessna R172K registered VH-DLA, had departed Canberra Airport with a pilot and observer on board to conduct power line survey work to the north of Sutton, New South Wales. While surveying power lines servicing properties to the east of Tallagandra Lane, witnesses in the area described seeing the aircraft flying low above the trees before commencing a left banking turn followed by a steep descent shortly before it collided with the ground.

“Witness reports indicated that a loss of control and entry into a spin preceded the ground impact,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.

Examination of the wreckage showed that the aircraft impacted the ground in a near vertical, nose down attitude.

The pilot and observer sustained fatal injuries, and the aircraft was destroyed.

“To date, ATSB transport safety investigators have examined the aircraft wreckage, mapped the accident site with a drone, retrieved relevant aircraft components for further analysis, interviewed witnesses and the aircraft operator, downloaded flight-related electronic data, and collected weather information,” said Mr Macleod.

Mr Macleod noted the preliminary report does not include any safety findings or analysis, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report.

“As the investigation progresses, the ATSB will continue to analyse the aircraft’s flight path and recorded data, and review pilot qualifications, maintenance records and the operator’s procedures for conducting flight survey aerial work,” he said.

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.”

Read the report: AO-2021-016: Loss of control and collision with terrain involving Cessna R172K, registered VH‑DLA, near Sutton, New South Wales on 13 April, 2021

Last update 04 June 2021

Preliminary report

Loss of control and collision with terrain involving Cessna R172K, registered VH DLA near Sutton, New South Wales on 13 April, 2021