An Airvan aircraft overran the runway on landing after the pilot continued the approach despite being unable to fully extend the flaps and did not apply maximum braking in time after the aircraft landed long.

An ATSB investigation report into the accident details that on 26 December 2021, the Geraldton Air Charter operated GA-8 Airvan was conducting an air-transport flight from Geraldton to East Wallabi Island, off the Mid West coast of WA.

While initially planning for six passengers, the pilot decided to add a seventh from another flight shortly before departure, and later reported this rearrangement resulted in preparations for the flight being rushed.

Earlier in the day, the pilot had flown a Cessna 172 with a personal emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) device positioned on their right hip.

The pilot knew the EPIRB’s positioning on their right hip could prevent the full extension of the Airvan’s flap lever – which sits to the right of the pilot’s seat – but they forgot to move the EPIRB to their left hip during the rushed flight preparations.

Approaching East Wallabi Island about 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot positioned the aircraft to join the right base leg of the circuit for runway 36, and extended the first stage of flap by moving the flap lever.

“When the pilot turned onto the final leg of the circuit and attempted to select full flap for the landing, the EPIRB obstructed the lever’s movement and prevented it from locking into the full flap position,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod explained.

Further attempts to select full flap were unsuccessful.

“The investigation notes the pilot did not consider a go around to allow for trouble shooting or repositioning of the EPIRB and continued the approach with just the first stage of flap extended,” said Mr Macleod.

During the landing flare, the aircraft floated more than the pilot expected, and touched down about midway along the runway – almost 300 m beyond the original landing aim point, and about 350 m from the runway’s end.

Mr Macleod noted the reduced drag of the first stage flap setting, possibly combined with a higher than normal approach speed, led to the longer float.

“While a go around should again have been considered at this stage, from the touchdown point it was still possible to stop the aircraft in the remaining runway using maximum braking,” Mr Macleod said.

“However, possibly due to prioritising retracting the flaps after landing, and the pilot not immediately recognising the risk of an overrun, maximum braking was not applied until there was insufficient runway remaining.”

The Airvan overran the runway by about 15 m, resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft, with a main landing gear leg detaching. However, the pilot and passengers were uninjured.

“This accident emphasises the need for careful flight preparation,” Mr Macleod reflected.

“Taking time to confirm that all required actions have been completed prior to departure minimises the chance of in-flight complications.”

Mr Macleod noted the accident also underlines the importance of commencing a missed approach early when an approach and landing deviate from the plan, and a safe landing cannot be assured.

“Pilots should always have a clearly-defined decision point where they can go-around if they’re not confident that a safe landing is achievable,” he said.

“This is especially relevant when landing on shorter runways.”

Read the report: AO-2022-001 Runway overrun involving Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8, VH-WSB East Wallabi Island, Western Australia on 26 December 2021

Publication Date