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Latest AAIB Bulletin

The November 2016 bulletin contains the report of a tragedy that engulfed a family. The 56 year old pilot of a Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage, accompanied by his wife and two grown up children, crashed near Dunkeswell, Devon and all died. The pilot had 600 hours of which 260 were on type and an IMC rating. There is no published instrument approach for Dunkeswell but the pilot had flown into this airfield on previous occasions at least once in conditions that were not judged suitable for VFR flight by locally based pilots. The cloud base on this occasion was 300 ft. As the aircraft turned on to the final approach, it commenced a descent on what appeared to be a normal approach path but then climbed rapidly, probably entering cloud. The aircraft then seems to have stalled, turned left and descended to “just below the clouds”, before it climbed steeply again and “disappeared into cloud”. Shortly after, the aircraft was observed descending out of the cloud in a steep nose-down attitude, in what appears to have been a spin, before striking the ground.  

The investigation was unable to determine why the aircraft made the initial rapid climb but there was some evidence to suggest that the pilot may have manually overridden the autopilot, during the initial descent, without realising it was still engaged. This would have caused an out-of-trim condition that could have contributed to the aircraft pitching up rapidly. Evaluation flights showed that the pitch attitude achieved during this manoeuvre would have been disorientating for the pilot and may explain why control was not regained. 

GASCo offers its sincere sympathy to the remaining family members and the friends of the pilot.  



Of the remaining aeroplane accident reports 13 relate to landings, of which one involved gear failure. There were 4 take off or go around accidents, 2 taxying accidents, one involving gear failure and one collision with a recreational kite at Height 700 ft. There were 4 forced landings, two of which stemmed from fuel exhaustion and all of these were carried out without injury to the occupants because the pilots kept their aircraft flying all the way down, congratulations are due to all of them.

There was one helicopter forced landing following fuel exhaustion and  this was executed without injury to any of the four occupants. 

There were two Serious Incidents. A pilot whose destination was Blackpool landed by mistake at Warton. Mistaking Warton for Blackpool is quite common and there is a video here to enable better identification:  www.youtube.com
 
A Robinson R44 Astro helicopter suffered a birdstrike with a herring gull. It broke the left windscreen but the crew were uninjured and made a successful landing.

 

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