Aviation occurrence briefs

Hard landing involving an amateur built Spacewalker II, Denmark (ALA), WA, on 18 May 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 18 May 2018, test flights were being conducted on an experimental category aircraft Spacewalker II at Denmark, Western Australia (WA). The first five flights were completed with a test pilot, to fine-tune details of the aircraft and to make engine adjustments.

At about 1300 Western Standard Time (WST), having previously completed two successful landings, on the third landing, the aircraft bounced and landed hard resulting in the landing gear collapsing and the aircraft veering off the runway. The aircraft sustained substantial damage to the propellers, landing gear, engine, engine mount and firewall (Figure 1).

The pilot advised that he typically had flown aircraft with the side stick on the left and the throttle in the right hand. The Spacewalker II aircraft has the side stick on the right and the throttle in the left hand. While he was aware of this issue, in the moment of the bounce, the pilot inadvertently pulled the throttle back and pushed the side stick forward. This resulted in the aircraft moving towards the ground rather than the intended action of conducting a missed approach.

Figure 1: The Spacewalker II post-accident

Figure 1: The Spacewalker II post-accident. Source: Supplied

Source: Owner

Safety action

As a result of this occurrence, the pilot has advised the ATSB that he is taking the following safety actions:

The pilot will conduct further training in similarly configured aircraft and will spend more ground time in the Spacewalker II aircraft cockpit simulating flight to build more control familiarity.

Safety message

This accident serves as a reminder for all pilots that aircraft have different flight characteristics and systems. Pilots may have many hours experience, but that experience may be specific to one aircraft type or configuration.  The ATSB research report AR-2012-035: Avoidable Accidents No. 6: Experience won't always save you highlights that good training, focussed preparation and a readiness for the unexpected has a significant part to play in preventing an accident.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 18 May 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1300 WST    
Location   (show map): Denmark    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 12 July 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Amateur Built Aircraft  
Aircraft model Spacewalker II  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Last update 12 December 2018