Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving a Grumman G164, VH-LKN, near Tharwa, ACT on 6 August 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 6 August 2015, the pilot of a Grumman G164 aircraft, registered VH-LKN, was conducting aerial spreading of superphosphate on a property about 33 km south-west of Tharwa, Australian Capital Territory. The target zone for the spreading was about 7 km to the south-east, and at an elevation about 1,000 ft higher than the airstrip and loading site.

At about 1400 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot commenced the take-off run for the seventh load of the day. As the aircraft became airborne, the aircraft started to sink. To stop the aircraft sinking, the pilot applied the dump lever to start dumping the load of superphosphate. The aircraft then started to climb, so the pilot stopped dumping the load. The pilot also commenced a shallow left turn, away from rising terrain. As the aircraft turned, when at about 100 ft above ground level, it started to sink again. The pilot re-applied the dump lever to open the hopper door and try to reduce the aircraft load. Simultaneously, the pilot lowered the aircraft nose and rolled the wings level, to try to recover from the incipient stall.

The aircraft continued to descend and the pilot maintained the aircraft in a normal nose attitude for landing. As the aircraft neared the ground, the pilot reduced the throttle to idle and held the aircraft control stick in the full back position. The tailwheel struck the ground first, and then the right main landing gear dug into soft ground. The aircraft flipped over and came to rest inverted.

The pilot sustained minor injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged.

Variations in wind strength and direction due to terrain can have serious consequences on flight safety, particularly when operating at low airspeeds and close to the ground.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin Issue 44

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General details
Date: 06 August 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1400 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 33 km SW of Tharwa    
State: Australian Capital Territory   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 04 November 2015   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Grumman American Aviation Corp  
Aircraft model G-164B  
Aircraft registration VH-LKN  
Serial number 10B  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Nass Valley, ACT  
Last update 14 November 2018