Sunday, May 7, 2017

Air Tractor AT-401B, Complete Aerosolutions Pty Ltd, VH-DDW: Accident occurred January 21, 2017 in Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia



A cracked cylinder has been blamed for a terrifying plane crash near Mareeba where the pilot miraculously escaped unharmed.

The male pilot had been crop dusting an avocado plantation about 10km northwest of the Tablelands community on January 21 when the Air Tractor aircraft lost power and crashed into a field.

The plane suffered major damage after it ploughed into lychee trees and a vehicle, but the pilot was able to walk away with just a minor injury.

In findings handed down by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the cracked cylinder was deemed responsible.

It said the part was not due to be inspected for another eight hours of flying time and had not been damaged when the pilot checked over the aircraft before he began flying.

The plane had done two flights earlier in the day and was part way through the third when the pilot heard a loud “bang”. “Part way through spraying the load of chemical on an avocado plantation, the pilot climbed the aircraft at the end of a spray run, to about 200 feet above ground level,” the report said.

“As the aircraft climbed, the engine suddenly made loud banging noises and the pilot estimated that the engine power reduced by about half.”

He attempted to find an open field to land, but the power dropped and the pilot realised the plane would not make it to the clearing.

The report said he radioed the loader driver and asked him to call for help because he was “going down”, then he had to readjust when he realised­ he was about to hit power lines and had to fly under them.

The release of the report comes as the ATSB continues to investigate another Far North crash where a helicopter crashed and rolled on a beach near Cooktown. The pilot was forced to land the Robinson R44 helicopter at the Silver Plains station on April 6 before it rolled over but the pilot and passengers escaped injury.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.cairnspost.com.au

Investigation number AO-2017-009: http://www.atsb.gov.au

Collision with terrain involving Air Tractor AT-401B, VH-DDW, near Dimbulah ALA, Qld, on January 21, 2017

On January 21, 2017, at about 0710 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of an Air Tractor AT 401B aircraft, registered VH-DDW, was conducting aerial spraying operations at a property about 10 km NW of Mareeba Airport, Queensland. The pilot was the only person on board the aircraft.

Part way through spraying the load of chemical on an avocado plantation, the pilot climbed the aircraft at the end of a spray run, to about 200 ft above ground level. As the aircraft climbed, the engine suddenly made loud banging noises and the pilot estimated that the engine power reduced by about half.

The pilot levelled the aircraft and checked the fuel mixture and throttle controls but the engine did not respond. The power available continued to decrease as the pilot looked ahead for a suitable field to conduct a forced landing. The pilot selected a cleared area, but as the aircraft lost height, they realised that the aircraft was not going to make it to that field.

The pilot then radioed their loader driver and advised that they had engine trouble and asked them to contact emergency services. The loader driver had heard the abnormal noise the aircraft’s engine was making, and responded immediately to the pilot.

As the aircraft descended, the pilot sighted powerlines ahead and assessed that the aircraft would probably not make it over them. Therefore, the pilot descended to pass under the powerlines. The aircraft then collided with several lychee trees and a vehicle that was parked in an orchard. The aircraft came to rest upright and was substantially damaged. The pilot sustained a minor injury.

The accident highlights the importance of taking positive action and maintaining aircraft control when conducting a forced landing, while being aware of flare energy and aircraft stall speeds.

Read more here:  http://www.atsb.gov.au

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