This preliminary report details factual information established in the investigation’s early evidence collection phase, and has been prepared to provide timely information to the industry and public. Preliminary reports contain no analysis or findings, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report. The information contained in this preliminary report is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.
On 28 December 2020, at about 1438 Western Standard Time,a Dynaero MCR-01, registered VH-SIP, departed Serpentine Aerodrome, Western Australia, to conduct a check flight after maintenance (Figure 1). The pilot was the sole occupant on board.
The pilot had conducted one previous check flight in VH-SIP earlier that afternoon, and was conducting the post-maintenance checks with a number of ground crew, including licensed aircraft maintenance engineers.
Witnesses reported that, on the second flight from runway 09,audible changes in the aircraft engine noise, and a noticeable change in aircraft performance at about 300 ft above ground level. They observed the aircraft slow and begin a left turn. Further change in the engine noise were heard before VH-SIP was observed to continue the left turn. Shortly after, the left wing dropped, and the aircraft entered a steep, nose-down rotating descent. The pilot was unable to recover control of the aircraft before impacting terrain.
Source: Google Earth, annotated by the ATSB
The witnesses at the aerodrome were able to quickly get to the accident site to render assistance, however the pilot had sustained fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed.
Site and wreckage examination
The accident site was located in relatively flat and open farmland (Figure 2), about 200 m east of the threshold of runway 23 at Serpentine aerodrome. The ATSB conducted an examination of the site and wreckage, and identified that the:
- ground impact marks indicated that the aircraft had impacted terrain nose-down, upright, rotating to the left
- flaps were in the retracted position.
No pre-impact defects were identified with flight controls or aircraft structure. The aircraft’s single fuel tank had ruptured and a quantity of fuel had leaked into the soil. There was no fire.
Several items were recovered from the site for further examination, including:
- a damaged GPS unit
- various instruments
- fuel system components including the fuel flow indicator
- the engine
- the propeller.
Electronic instrumentation will be examined at the ATSB’s technical facility in Canberra. The engine and propeller will be examined under ATSB direction by manufacturer representatives.
The investigation is continuing and will include:
- interviews with witnesses involved with the accident and operations the previous day
- analysis of the downloaded data from the fuel flow meter and other electronic devices
- examination of the recovered components
- review of the pilot’s qualifications, experience and medical history
- assessment of the aircraft’s flight performance characteristics
- examination of aircraft maintenance and operational records.
The ATSB is investigating an accident involving DynAero MCR-01 aeroplane VH-SIP, that collided with terrain soon after take-off from Serpentine Airfield, Western Australia, on 28 December 2020.
Witnesses at the airport recalled seeing the aircraft become airborne from runway 09, but soon after heard the engine ‘labouring’. The aircraft did not gain significant altitude and turned left, in what they perceived was an attempt by the pilot to return to the airfield. The aircraft remained at a low altitude and close to the airfield perimeter.
The aircraft was tracking towards the extended runway centreline for runway 23, when they observed the left bank angle steepen and the aircraft departed abruptly from controlled flight, descending vertically towards the ground. The pilot was the only person onboard and was fatally injured.
To date, the ATSB has examined the wreckage and the accident site, and interviewed a number of witnesses. Further activities during the evidence collection phase will include a more detailed examination of the engine and related components, additional witness interviews and a review of aircraft maintenance and airworthiness documentation.
A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties, so that appropriate safety action can be taken.
|Date:||28 December 2020||Investigation status:||Active|
|Time:||1438 WST||Investigation level:||Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||near Serpentine Airfield||Investigation phase:||Final report: Internal review|
|State:||Western Australia||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|Release date:||15 March 2021||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Report status:||Preliminary||Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Anticipated completion:||3rd Quarter 2022|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Amateur Built Aircraft|
|Aircraft model||DYN-AERO MCR01VLA|
|Type of operation||General Aviation|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Serpentine Airfield|