Mode of transport
Occurrence ID
15º 50.487' S
144º 50.961' E
Brief status
Occurrence status
Occurrence date
Report release date
Occurrence category
Aviation occurrence type
Lakeland Downs
Injury level

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 5 January 2019 at approximately 1045 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of an amateur built aircraft VAN’S RV-6A took off from an unsealed runway at Lakeland Downs airstrip, Queensland for a private flight with one passenger on board.

During the take-off run[1], at approximately 250 m down the runway, the aircraft began to deviate to the right uncommanded. The pilot then conducted a rejected take-off and lost directional control resulting in the aircraft veering off the runway and colliding with a tree. The aircraft subsequently sustained substantial damage.

Pilot comments

The pilot advised that there had recently been a lot of rain in the area and the airstrip was mainly clay with overgrown grass. Upon landing at the airstrip, he had noticed that the runway had a rough surface, and during take-off he had tried to follow the same track.

After the accident, the pilot walked back along the tracks the aircraft had taken and found a large rock buried in the runway that the landing gear had struck.

Figure 1: Damage sustained to aircraft

Figure 1: Damage sustained to aircraft. Source: Qld Police

Source: Qld Police

Safety message

This accident highlights the importance of identification and management of any risks that might be associated with an unsealed runway. Potential hazards may be hard to identify, with objects possibly obscured by vegetation. Changes in the runway surface can be hard to detect visually and without a vehicle or some means to apply a similar force to that of a landing aircraft.

Further information on being prepared when operating on remote airstrips can be found on the CASA website, Bush strips.

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.



  1. Take-off run: Take-off run (ground run) is the portion of the take-off procedure during which the airplane is accelerated from a standstill to an airspeed that provides sufficient lift for it to become airborne.
Aircraft Details
Departure point
Lakeland Downs, Queensland
Operation type
Amateur Built Aircraft