The family of a photographer killed when a plane crashed during the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is suing the airline.
Pilot Sam Langford, 29, and respected Hobart photographer Tim Jones, 61, perished when their Cessna 172 crashed into Storm Bay, south of Hobart, as they captured the iconic race in December 2014.
Mr. Jones’s family has launched court action against the plane’s operator, Airlines of Tasmania, under the Fatal Accidents Act.
The Act allows family members to recover damages relating to a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default”.
A directions hearing, closed to the public, was held in the Supreme Court yesterday.
A report by the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau was released last year.
It found the plane entered a spin after a steep climbing turn, for which the pilot had not been trained, stalling the aircraft.
It then nosedived into the sea east of Cape Raoul on the Tasman Peninsula and sank 90m to the ocean floor.
Before the crash, it had just finished a photo run of yacht Mistraal at a height of about 15m.
This was about 45m lower than the airline was allowed to fly.
The report stated a Cessna 172 would need to be flying at a height of least 120m to recover from a spin.
However, the report said the aircraft flying at a height lower than permitted “was not likely to have contributed to the accident” in itself.
While Airlines of Tasmania had been given a dispensation to fly to 45m above obstacles, the safety board found the operator had consistently flown down to 15m for aerial photographs.
The board considered this a risk factor along with the airline’s safety management processes which were insufficient to identify the risks of low-level flying during the Sydney-Hobart race.
At the time, the airline said the report had found that the crash “was not caused by any fault with the aircraft or our operational procedures”.
However, it had stopped low-level photography flights and “extensively changed” its safety management system following the crash.
Original article can be found here: http://www.couriermail.com.au
Aviation safety investigation report: http://www.atsb.gov.au
What happened: At 1748 Australian Eastern Daylight-saving Time on 29 December 2014, a Cessna 172S aircraft, registered VH‑PFT, departed Cambridge Airport, Tasmania to photograph yachts participating in the 2014 Sydney Hobart race as they made their way around the southern coast of the Tasman Peninsula. On board the aircraft were the pilot and a photographer.
At about 1815 the aircraft commenced low-level photographic runs on yachts to the east of Cape Raoul. Shortly after completing a run on one yacht at a height of about 50 ft, the aircraft entered a steep climbing turn. The aircraft had almost completed a 180° turn when the upper (right) wing dropped sharply while the aircraft’s nose pitched down to almost vertical. The aircraft impacted the water’s surface in an almost vertical nose down attitude with wings about level. Both aircraft occupants were fatally injured and the aircraft was seriously damaged.
What the ATSB found: As a result of the steep climbing turn, the aircraft’s upper wing aerodynamically stalled, resulting in a rapid rotation out of the turn. The steep pitch attitude indicated that, because of the stalled upper wing, the aircraft entered a spin. There was insufficient height for the pilot to recover the aircraft. The steep climbing manoeuvre was not in accordance with the pilot’s training for low-level flight. Cessna identified that any C172 type aircraft that enters a stall/spin condition will require significant height to recover.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority had issued the operator with a dispensation that permitted low-level flight down to 150 ft above obstacles. Low-level photographic operations on yachts conducted by the operator had been consistently flown at heights down to 50 ft. Although the aircraft was being operated at a height lower than that authorized by the dispensation, that in itself was not likely to have contributed to the accident.
The ATSB examined the role of the operators’ Safety Management System (SMS). While it was not established that the safety risk management processes and practices directly contributed to the occurrence, there were aspects that the operator could consider working towards to more effectively identify all key operational risks.
What's been done as a result: The operator advised that it has ceased low-level photography flights.
NTSB Identification: WPR15WA075
Accident occurred Monday, December 29, 2014 in Port Arthur, Australia, Australia
Aircraft: CESSNA 172 - S, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
The foreign authority was the source of this information.
On December 29, 2014, at 1747 local, a Cessna 172S, VH-PFT, collided with water near Port Arthur, Australia during an aerial photography flight. The airplane was operating under the pertinent civil regulations of the government of Australia. The airplane was substantially damaged and the pilot and passenger were fatally injured.
The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Australia. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of Australia.