Denny Kitfox: G-TOMZ & Cessna F177RG: G-AZTW - Nr St Neots, Beds.
The owner/pilot of the Kitfox took off at 07.52 from his private strip to fly on a southerly heading to Sandy airfield, a route he flew regularly to his place of work when the weather was good. He normally flew at between 2 and 4,000 ft at between 70 and 80 kts and would have been on a heading of approx 180º. The Cessna 177 piloted by the co-owner departed from Fowlmere airfield at about 07.20 for Sywell aerodrome, his place of work and a route he regularly flew in suitable weather. He was cruising at 2,700 ft at 130 kts on a heading of 298º and monitoring the Luton Approach frequency. He recollected suddenly seeing a red light aircraft climbing towards him about 15 to 20 ft away and attempted to avoid it. He heard and felt an impact and his aircraft went out of control before finally regaining limited control. Ahead he could see Bedford aerodrome and informed Luton ATC of his intentions to land there. He landed safely and ‘phoned Luton ATC with further details. The Kitfox crashed killing the pilot. Initial impact had been between the Cessna propeller and the right wingtip of the Kitfox. There was widespread early morning mist clearing to give hazy conditions and visibility was reported to be 7 to 8 km. As the two aircraft approached each other they remained on a constant bearing with little or no relative motion at a closing speed of approx 157 kts. Each pilot was navigating visually and their lookout would have been concentrated on the direction of travel. There was airframe structure in both aircraft that may have prevented the pilots from seeing each other. The sun was low in the sky making it difficult for the Kitfox pilot to see the Cessna. In the sub–optimal conditions each would only have been visible to the other for between 7 and 9 seconds before collision, which FAA research has shown is insufficient for effective action. The 46 year old Kitfox pilot had flown 990 hours with approx 200 on type whilst the 56 year old Cessna pilot had flown 1,038 hrs with 604 on type. (AAIB Bulletin 2/2015).
Piper PA-38 Tomahawk: G-BNDE: Nr Padbury, Bucks
The 60 year old pilot had leased the aircraft for three months, was based at Elstree and flew it regularly. He was an experienced fixed wing pilot with a PPL since 1982, a CPL(A) since 2005 and had recently renewed his helicopter licence and had in the past owned a Cessna Citation. He was in current flying practice. He flew from Elstree landing at Turweston before departing and landing at White Waltham. Having left the battery master ON, he required assistance because of a flat battery before departure and was told after an hours flying the battery should be fine. People he spoke to said he was friendly and relaxed. He took off and flew to a position south of Buckingham where he flew a roughly circular pattern for an hour making a number of mobile phone calls during this time. He attempted to make a phone call to a relative but it did not connect. A most unusual feature was the text message sent to the pilot’s relative, composed after the attempted telephone call to the same relative, with 148 characters input within 25 seconds. To achieve this would require considerable dexterity, especially in an aircraft that may have been out of control. However, after this message was sent the aircraft continued in flight, visible on radar, for more than two minutes before entering a spin coincident with the pilot transmitting a MAYDAY call on the Farnborough Radar North frequency in which he stated the aircraft was in a spin, from which it did not recover, crashing near Buckingham killing the pilot. (AAIB Bulletin 4/2015).
CZAW Sportcruiser: G-EWZZ: Kingarth, Isle of Bute, Scotland
The pilot together with a group of others had flown into Bute Airstrip from Strathaven where the aircraft was based. The SportCruiser was the last to depart and shortly after take off from the 480 metre long RW 27 the Rotax 912 ULS engine appeared to lose power and it was no longer able to climb. The surrounding area was unsuitable for a forced landing so he attempted to return to the runway by flying a low-level-circuit, but when flying approx downwind his recollection was of a nose high attitude giving him little or no forward visibility before the aircraft struck the ground. It ended up inverted with the cockpit section over a roadside ditch. The pilot very quickly assisted the passenger from the burning aircraft, however both sustained serious burns, the passenger later dying in hospital. The aircraft was fitted with a Woodcomp variable pitch propeller in place of the Klassic propeller and an autopilot. It was calculated that the unrecorded modifications were likely to have taken the aircraft over the approved MTOW of 600 kg when it departed from Bute. Although it was probably overweight it had departed Strathaven without incident and it is unlikely that this alone prevented it having a sustained positive rate of climb. The LAA inspectors who carried out the Permit Renewals all stated the fixed pitch propeller was fitted when they inspected the aircraft giving a rate of climb close to 770 ft/min. The other pilots reported that the wind was approx 260º 13 to 17 kts. The aircraft was fitted with a ballistic parachute system which had not been activated and raised a number of issues concerning the risk to the occupants and first responders. The 53 year old NPPL pilot had a total of 555 hours with 100 on type and 1 hour in the previous 28 days.
Cessna F150L: G-YIII: Nr Hucknall Airfield, Notts
The pilot and PPL passenger conducted a pre-flight inspection prior to taking off. As seen by several eye-witnesses, it failed to reach normal circuit height and continued at low altitude and airspeed before stall and incipient spin before impacting vertically nose down into the ground. The weight was calculated to be 44 lbs below the maximum take off weight and should have been able to climb at approx 500 ft/min; the flaps were up. The damage to the propeller indicated that at impact the engine had been running at low power. Another pilot had made two flights during the morning and reported that the aircraft had performed normally throughout. The environment was conducive to carb ice at low and moderate power settings although two witnesses reported that the engine noise was constant. The 70 year old PPL pilot had flown a total of 293 hours with 240 on type and 2 hours in the last 28 days. (AAIB Bulletin 4/2015).
YAK-52: G-YAKR: Nr Highwood, Chelmsford, Essex
The pilot who was one of three co-owners of the aircraft took off for a 20 minute local flight from North Weald accompanied by a passenger. About five minutes after take off the aircraft was seen flying at low level before climbing sharply and entering a stall or spin with little height from which to recover before it struck the ground steeply nose down killing both occupants. An intense fire destroyed much of the front fuselage area. The engine was running at the point of impact but the possibility of significant power loss could not be discounted. The engine had achieved 55 hours since overhaul. The reason the aircraft was flying at low level and the cause of the final manoeuvre could not be determined. The 50 year old pilot held a Class One medical and was employed by a Commercial Airline, he was a diabetic who managed his condition by a regime of testing and injections of insulin in accordance with the CAA’s protocols. The Post Mortem revealed nothing that could have contributed to the accident. He had flown in excess of 15,000 hours with approx 40 on type. (AAIB Bulletin 3/2015).
Augusta Bell 206B Jet Ranger 11 G-SUEX - Flamborough Head, Yorks
The helicopter was en-route at low level from Scotland to the company base at Manston, Kent. The evidence indicated that the helicopter was being operated for extended periods below 600 ft agl and in some cases below 100 ft agl in weather conditions which appeared to be below the limits contained in the Operations Manual. Due to encountering poor weather a temporary stop was made in a field near Robin Hood’s Bay before continuing after 50 minutes during which he discussed the weather with Humberside Airport. As it approached Flamborough Head the weather improved (the rescue helicopter assessed visibility as 9km at 200 ft) with the coastline clearly visible and was seen flying level with, or just above, the 200 ft cliffs before descending steeply and passing out of sight. It crashing at the base of the cliffs fatally injuring both occupants. The engine had lost power due to failure of the bearings supporting the turbine assembly. The evidence suggested the pilot was probably attempting to land on the cliff top, however, there was not sufficient energy within the rotor system to achieve this. The helicopter was not fitted with flotation gear. The 58 year old pilot had a CPL(H) and had flown an estimated 4,000 hours, his log books were not recovered. He was the Company’s Chief Pilot and was post holder for both Flight Operations and Flight Crew Training. (AAIB Bulletin 1/2016).
Enstrom 280FX Shark: G-OJMF: Kircham, Gmunden, Upper Austria
The helicopter was engaged on a series of passenger flights in the area. The accident occurred after the helicopter ran out of fuel resulting in an autorotation into tall trees, causing the death of the pilot and serious injury to the two passengers. The investigation revealed that the fuel level indication in the cockpit was inaccurate due to considerable corrosion on the electrical connections of the fuel level sensor. A dipstick is available to verify the fuel quantity indications. The 46 year old pilot had a CPL(H) with a total of 884 hours with 19.25 on type. (from Austrian BMVIT Report GZ85.206).
Agusta Westland AW139: G-LBAL: Nr Gillingham Hall, Nr Beccles, Norfolk
A night departure was planned for 18.30 hrs from a private site, but was delayed until around 19.20 hrs by which time dense fog had set in, witnesses at the site and in the local area describing visibility as of the order of tens of metres. Although the commander had briefed with the co-pilot a vertical departure from the centre of the paddock, the helicopter pitched progressively nose down until impacting in a nearby field fatally injuring the four occupants. There was little cultural lighting although ground level illumination of the trees at the edge of the paddock had been installed. The helipad at the Hall was one of the helicopters regular destinations and both pilots had flown to and from it previously by day and night. No evidence was found that either pilot had received training in vertical departures in low visibility or that they had been trained or tested as a crew of two which could have assisted in better situational awareness preventing the progressive change of attitude in the flight path to the point at which the accident was inevitable. Greater reliance on the automatic flight capabilities of the helicopter might have prevented the development of abnormal pitch attitudes at departure. The flight crew may have been subject to somatogravic illusion (due to acceleration effects) caused by the helicopter’s flight path and lack of external visual cues. It was not possible to determine whether the Forward-Looking Infra-Red system was active. Opportunities to reduce the likelihood of such an event, presented by the report from the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit into the operator’s previous fatal accident in Ireland involving an S76 (G-HAUG 12th Dec 1996) used in the same role, appeared not to have been taken by the CAA or the operator. The Commander had a CPL(H) with IR and had flown 2,300 hours with approx 580 on type and the co-pilot had a CPL(H) & IR with 1,187 hrs and 367 on type. (AAIB Bulletin 10/2015).
Gemini Flash2A: G-MVKC: Caernarfon Airport, Wales
In light wind conditions of 4 kts the student pilot on his eighth solo flight took off and climbed to an estimated height of between 160 and 250 ft when he commenced a left turn with the angle of bank increasing steadily until the nose began to drop. The aircraft descended and struck the ground in a grass area close to the fuel installation. In spite of the best efforts of the airfield based HEMS Emergency Helicopter paramedics, the pilot died as a result of impact injuries. The engine was heard to remain at the constant high power setting throughout until the point of impact. The CFI and other witnesses considered the left turn to be consistent with a control input by the pilot but that no attempt to correct the increasing bank angle or nose-drop was observed. An unapproved hand throttle had been installed on the seat frame’s upper left tube, an approved hand throttle for use in cruising flight, but not for take off and landing, is available that would have normally been mounted approx 12 cm further forward. The aircraft’s foot throttle fitted above the right nosewheel steering pedal was found to function correctly. A right hand circuit was in operation in spite of sea fog offshore. The 61 year old pilot had flown 26 hours with 10 on type and 2 hours in the previous 28 days. (AAIB Bulletin 12/2014).
Pegasus Quik: G-CCWR - Farway Common Airfield, Honiton, Devon
The pilot was flying from Westonzoyland Airfield, Somerset on his first visit to Farway Common with his 9 year old son as passenger. On final approach to runway 36 the microlight veered to the right and struck the tops of trees a short distance from the runway threshold before descending steeply to the ground. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger suffered serious injuries which included a broken arm. Turbulence and downdraughts probably contributed. The weather at Exeter 9 miles to the west included a wind of 060 at 9 kts and with Farway being 567 ft higher the wind was likely to have been stronger. The pilot who weighed 128 kg had not used his diagonal upper torso restraint because he was too big, he also exceeded the structural weight limit of the pilots seat by 18 kg. The pilots Log Book showed he had not flown since 17 July 2013 but movements log at two airfields showed he had made several flights but had not had a refresher flight with an instructor as recommended in the Operator’s Manual. On departure the aircraft had been at a weight of 452.8 kg and on arrival about 38 kg (9.3%) above the maximum authorised weight of 409 kg. Subsequently the airfield owner updated the website photo to take account of growth of the trees and to add a cautionary note about Runway 36 turbulence and windshear as well as instigating amendments in Flight Guides. The 50 year old pilot had flown a total of 162 hours with 100 on type. (AAIB Bulletin 12/2014)