Aviation safety investigations & reports

Take-off from a closed runway involving Fairchild Industries SA226, VH-LDQ, at Gunnedah Airport, New South Wales, on 20 August 2020

Investigation number:
AO-2020-056
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final

Download Final Report
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What happened

A privately operated Fairchild Industries SA226-T aircraft, registered VH-LDQ, landed at Gunnedah Airport, New South Wales, on 19 August 2020, where it was then parked overnight. The following day, at about 1230 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot commenced a take-off run on runway 29. As the aircraft accelerated, the pilot saw that there were two holes excavated from the runway pavement. The pilot attempted to avoid the holes, but the aircraft’s left main landing gear struck them. The aircraft sustained damage to the left main landing gear assembly, which resulted in it collapsing, and the left propeller striking the ground. The aircraft veered off the runway and came to rest outside the flight strip.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that during pre-flight planning, the pilot had not checked for relevant NOTAMs, including one stating that Gunnedah Airport was closed due to works in progress. Prior to entering the runway and commencing the take-off run, the pilot did not see evidence of the runway works.

A white cross had been placed at the main windsock, visible to aircraft arriving overhead, however, when the pilot had landed the previous afternoon the aerodrome was still open. Further, there was no works safety officer on site or any ground-visible unserviceability markings on the runway, as required by the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Part 139 Manual of Standards (MOS) for Aerodromes. Aerodrome works staff were not aware of the updated MOS requirements that had come into effect 7 days earlier and had interpreted the superseded MOS to not require unserviceability markings if the whole aerodrome was closed.

What has been done as a result

The Gunnedah Airport operator has added folding signs to all entry gates to the airfield, which will display any total unserviceability or restricted operations signals that are currently being displayed  in the signals area adjacent to the primary windsock.

Additionally, the airport operator updated their contact details with CASA to ensure timely receipt of updates to requirements.

Safety message

An essential component of pre-flight planning is to check all NOTAMs relevant to the planned flight. This includes NOTAMs regarding all aviation facilities that a pilot plans to use.

To ensure receipt of correspondence that may affect safety of aircraft operations, aerodrome operators should ensure CASA is provided up to date contact details, particularly following changes to staff.

 

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.39MB]
 
 
 

The investigation

Summary

The ATSB is investigating an attempted take-off from a closed runway involving Fairchild Industries SA226, VH-LDQ, at Gunnedah Airport, New South Wales, on 20 August 2020.

At about 1225 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot commenced the take-off run on runway 29. The pilot stated observing something on the runway surface in the distance, but thought the areas were patches on the pavement. As the aircraft accelerated, it became apparent that there were two holes excavated from the runway pavement (Figure 1). The pilot attempted to avoid the holes but was unable to clear them with the left main undercarriage.

Figure 1: Pavement work on runway 29

Pavement work on runway 29. Source: Airport operator

Source: Airport operator

The aircraft sustained damage to the left main undercarriage assembly that resulted in it collapsing and the left propeller striking the ground. The aircraft left the runway and came to rest outside the flight strip.

The local council had submitted NOTAM information the previous day to close the airport for runway pavement works between 0700 and 1500 on 20 August 2020. The excavations had been made during the morning of 20 August. A white cross to signify the runway was closed, was in the signal area near the windsock from the closure time stated in the NOTAM – visible for landing aircraft. The pilot noted that there were no visual cues to indicate works in progress.

The evidence collection phase of the investigation will include interviewing aerodrome staff and reviewing pilot statements.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.

General details
Date: 20 August 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 12:25 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Gunnedah Airport   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Depart/app/land wrong runway  
Release date: 26 October 2021   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Industries Inc  
Aircraft model SA226-T  
Aircraft registration VH-LDQ  
Serial number T326  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Gunnedah Airport, New South Wales  
Destination Gold Coast Airport, Queensland  
Last update 26 October 2021