Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving Dynaero MCR-01 VLA, VH-SIP, near Serpentine Airfield, Western Australia, on 28 December 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress
Phase: Final report: Internal review Read more information on this investigation phase

Preliminary Report

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.

The occurrence

On 28 December 2020, at about 1438 Western Standard Time,[1]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,[2]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.

Figure 1: Flight path derived from witness reports and accident site location

Flight path derived from witness reports and accident site location

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.

Figure 2: Accident site

Source: ATSB

Further investigation

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.



  1. Western Standard Time (WST): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 8 hours.
  2. Runway number: the number represents the magnetic heading of the runway.


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.

General details
Date: 28 December 2020   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 1438 WST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 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 details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Amateur Built Aircraft  
Aircraft model DYN-AERO MCR01VLA  
Aircraft registration VH-SIP  
Serial number 225  
Type of operation General Aviation  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Serpentine Airfield  
Last update 23 May 2022