Aviation safety investigations & reports

Runway overrun involving Gippsland Aeronautics GA8, VH-BNX, Cornwell’s ALA, Fraser Island, Queensland, on 2 January 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

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What happened

On 2 January 2020, at about 1415 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Gippsland Aeronautics GA8 aircraft, operated by Air Fraser Island and registered VH-BNX, conducted a local scenic flight at Fraser Island, Queensland, with seven passengers on board. After the 13-minute flight, the aircraft returned to land on the same beach landing area it had taken off from.

During the approach, the pilot saw a vehicle moving close to the runway. To remain clear of the perceived vehicle hazard, the pilot opted to land about a third of the way down the marked runway. Shortly after the first touchdown, the aircraft became airborne again. The pilot reported that he had pulled back on the control column to raise the aircraft nose off the ground, in order to minimise the discomfort to passengers as the aircraft passed over holes in the sand.

After passing the holes, the aircraft landed and the pilot attempted to brake. However, the aircraft was still at speed as it approached the end of the runway, beyond which was a washout. As the aircraft overran the runway, the pilot reported raising the nose to lift the aircraft over the washout, concerned that the aircraft would flip if the nose wheel struck the water. Immediately beyond the washout, the aircraft pitched forwards heavily onto the nose landing gear, which collapsed. The propeller struck the sand and the aircraft came to a halt.

The aircraft sustained substantial damage, but there were no injuries to the pilot or passengers.

What the ATSB found

The pilot did not conduct a go-around despite several cues to do so, including sighting a vehicle near the runway and when becoming airborne again after the first touchdown. The aircraft subsequently landed with insufficient runway remaining to prevent a runway overrun. The overrun was onto a section of beach unsuitable for a landing roll due to a washout.

The pilot did not obtain passenger weights or use standard weights to calculate the aircraft weight and balance prior to the flight from which to assess the required landing distance.

Safety message

This accident is a reminder to pilots to be go-around minded. This is of particular importance when operating at a runway in conditions where the full available runway length is required for a safe landing and no obstacle-free overrun area exists.

The Flight Safety Foundation Approach-and-landing accident reduction tool kit Briefing note 6.1 – Being prepared to go around, stated that the importance of being go-around prepared and go-around minded must be emphasised because a go-around is not a frequent occurrence.

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 343KB]

The investigation

General details
Date: 02 January 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1430 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Cornwell’s ALA, Fraser Island   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Runway excursion  
Release date: 22 June 2020   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model GA8  
Aircraft registration VH-BNX  
Serial number GA8-03-032  
Operator Air Fraser Island  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Cornwell’s ALA, Fraser Island, Queensland  
Destination Cornwell’s ALA, Fraser Island, Queensland  
Last update 25 September 2020