Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Stoddard-Hamilton Glasair Super II FT, N600: Fatal accident occurred December 26, 2022 near Wedderburn Airstrip, Australia

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances in Appin, Australia. Post crash fire consumed wreckage.

Date: 26-DEC-22
Time: 04:00:00Z
Regis#: N600
Aircraft Model: GLASAIR II
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 2
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal
Pax: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
Operation: 91
Country: Australia 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell says the investigation has begun.

Investigators are probing how a experimental aircraft crashed killing two on board in Sydney's south-west on Monday, as one of the worst years for light plane crashes draws to a close. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said his crew had just arrived at the bushland crash site near Appin Road. 

The plane came down on Monday, when emergency services responding to reports of a scrub fire confirmed the two fatalities. 

Pilot Leigh Cunneen, 67, and his passenger, Steve Donoghue, 68, died in the crash.

"It's not a mass-production aircraft it was built essentially from a kit we know it came initially registered from the US," Mr. Mitchell said. 

"How many years it's been out here in Australia we are yet to determine.

"It's what we refer to as an experimental aircraft."

Initial inquiries suggest the aircraft took off from Temora in the state's Riverina region, according to NSW Police.

The foreign-registered  Stoddard-Hamilton Glasair Super II FT collided with terrain shortly before 3pm on Monday. 

Safety investigators were sent to the scene to examine the wreckage of the single-engine aircraft, flight information and weather conditions.

The crash sparked a 5-hectare bushfire that has since been extinguished.

Mr. Mitchell said it had been a particularly tragic Christmas for a number of families after his team were called out to another fatal small plane crash. 

"This is the second fatal aircraft accident we have deployed to in as many days," he said.

"Unfortunately this year has been one of the worst years on record for light plane fatalities, we're up to 23 fatal accidents this year."

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas said "do-it-yourself planes" are not uncommon, and are favored by sport enthusiast pilots.

"Are they as safe as a 747? No," Mr. Thomas said.

"They don't have all the electronics or landing aides or anything that a full-blown commercial aircraft has."

There have been 1,200 light-plane kits built in Australia in the last three decades.

The aircraft was severely damaged by the blaze, limiting the amount of physical evidence and electronic data for analysis.

Using a drone, the ATSB will map the site, creating a 3D picture to assist the investigators to better understand the flight profile of the aircraft just before the collision.

Investigators hope to recover any electronic equipment, such as iPhones and iPads, to help build a picture of what had occurred.

The ATSB said the available evidence would determine the size and scope of the investigation and the timeframe for completing its final report.

A report will be published after the investigation is completed, however should a critical safety issue be identified the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties, Mr. Mitchell said. 

Transport safety investigators are expected to be at the site for at least the next few days, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Anyone who may have seen the aircraft, or has relevant footage, can contact or Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or visiting

A experimental aircraft crashed in Sydney's south-west killing two people on board initially registered for the United States, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

An ATSB investigation is now underway to determine why the Stoddard-Hamilton Glasair Super II FT crashed in thick bushland near a private airport near Appin Road at Appin in Macarthur at 3pm on Boxing Day.

Pilot Leigh Cunneen, 67, and his passenger, Steve Donoghue, 68, died in the crash.

Cunneen was an accountant and landlord from Annandale in Sydney's inner west and was well known for his love of aviation.

News of his death has rocked the neighborhood where the father of four lived his whole life.

One neighbor, David Gardner, said he saw Cunneen a few days ago.


  1. Re: Geoffrey Thomas comments, at least in the US experimental/kit planes are often equipped with very capable navigation (IFR legal) and safety-enhancing equipment. Additionally comparing experimental planes to 747s is not an apples to apples comparison. A more valid comparison regarding accident rates, avionics installed, hours flown, etc., would be experimental vs. certified/factory General Aviation aircraft.

  2. Registration shows Subaru auto conversion engine. Lots of non certified ignition controls and fuel pump arrangements have contributed to engine fail incidents with auto conversions.

    Comparing experimental vs. certified/factory General Aviation aircraft is only appropriate where all parts used are certified and build quality is comparable.