Aviation safety investigations & reports

Flight below minimum permitted altitude involving Cessna 441, VH-EQU, near Wollongong Airport, NSW, on 3 August 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

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On 3 August 2015 at about 0410 Eastern Standard Time (EST), a Cessna 441 aircraft, registered VH-EQU, departed Scone Airport for a positioning flight to Illawarra Regional Airport (Wollongong Airport), New South Wales.

Due to the strong westerly wind, flying conditions were turbulent and the pilot flying (PF) reported that it was quite difficult keeping the aircraft’s wings level.

During the descent, the PF briefed the pilot monitoring (PM) for an area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach and landing to runway 16. Due to the steeper than normal approach path angle (3.7 degrees as opposed to the usual 3.0 degrees), the PF established a descent rate of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet per minute (fpm).

As the aircraft approached 2,700 ft, the PM called ‘two thousand seven hundred’ with the expectation that the PF would maintain that altitude until regaining the approach path. However, the descent continued and a few seconds later, the terrain alerting and warning system (TAWS) generated visual and aural ‘CAUTION-TERRAIN’ alerts. These alerts were generated as the system detected that the flight path was projected to come within 300 ft of an obstacle or terrain.

The PM recalled observing the PF looking at the TAWS visual warning but not taking any immediate action. The PM then called ‘terrain warning pull up’, and the PF raised the aircraft’s nose, applied power and climbed back up to 2,700 ft. Having re-established the aircraft on the correct profile, the PF asked the PM if they were happy to continue the approach. As the PM was satisfied that the aircraft was now clear of terrain, the approach was continued and the aircraft landed normally a short time later at about 0500.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 49

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General details
Date: 03 August 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0441 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Wollongong Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Flight below minimum altitude  
Release date: 27 July 2016   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 441  
Aircraft registration VH-EQU  
Serial number 441-0035  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Scone, NSW  
Destination Wollongong, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018