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.
On 22 March 2020 at about 1030 Western Standard Time, a privately chartered de Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth commenced take-off for a local flight. As the aircraft became airborne, the aircraft’s attitude pitched up with the high take-off power setting and the pilot was unable to move the elevator control forward. The pilot performed a precautionary landing on the remaining available runway by adjusting power to control aircraft pitch attitude.
The aircraft was taxied back to the parking bay and secured. Upon examination, the pilot observed a hand-held inspection mirror lodged between the elevator control and the frame of the aircraft.
Figure 1: Hand-held inspection mirror lodged in elevator control
The mirror was not visible during a normal pilot pre-flight inspection and the elevator had full and free movement during both the pre-flight inspection and the pre-take-off checks. The operator concluded that the mirror was therefore inside the cockpit in a position not easily visible prior to the flight. It appeared to have moved during the take-off run into the position inhibiting elevator control.
The operator held a workshop safety briefing into the incident but was unable to confirm how the mirror got into the aircraft.
This incident highlights the importance of effective tool control and ensuring any items that are unaccounted for are located. Loose items must also be secured to prevent interference with aircraft controls.
The presence of foreign object debris can pose a significant threat to aircraft safety and has the potential to result in damage during critical phases of flight.
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.