Crash of a Cessna 404 Titan in Lockhart River: 5 killed

Date & Time: Mar 11, 2020 at 0930 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-OZO
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Cairns – Lockhart River
MSN:
404-0653
YOM:
1980
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
The twin engine aircraft departed Cairns on a charter flight to Lockhart River, carrying workers for the government. While descending to Lockhart River, the pilot encountered marginal weather conditions with rain falls and strong winds. A first approach to Lockhart River was abandoned and the pilot was forced to initiate a go-around. Few minutes later, while in a second attempt to land, the aircraft crashed on the Claudie Beach located about 4 km southeast of Lockhart River. All five occupants were killed.

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500S off Horn Island: 1 killed

Date & Time: Feb 24, 2011 at 0800 LT
Operator:
Registration:
VH-WZU
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Cairns - Horn Island
MSN:
3060
YOM:
1970
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
4154
Captain / Total hours on type:
209.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17545
Circumstances:
At 0445 Eastern Standard Time on 24 February 2011, the pilot of an Aero Commander 500S, registered VH-WZU, commenced a freight charter flight from Cairns to Horn Island, Queensland under the instrument flight rules. The aircraft arrived in the Horn Island area at about 0720 and the pilot advised air traffic control that he intended holding east of the island due to low cloud and rain. At about 0750 he advised pilots in the area that he was north of Horn Island and was intending to commence a visual approach. When the aircraft did not arrive a search was commenced but the pilot and aircraft were not found. On about 10 October 2011, the wreckage was located on the seabed about 26 km north-north-west of Horn Island.
Probable cause:
The ATSB found that the aircraft had not broken up in flight and that it impacted the water at a relatively low speed and a near wings-level attitude, consistent with it being under control at impact. It is likely that the pilot encountered rain and reduced visibility when manoeuvring to commence a visual approach. However, there was insufficient evidence available to determine why the aircraft impacted the water.
Several aspects of the flight increased risk. The pilot had less than 4 hours sleep during the night before the flight and the operator did not have any procedures or guidance in place to minimize the fatigue risk associated with early starts. In addition, the pilot, who was also the operator’s chief pilot, had either not met the recency requirements or did not have an endorsement to conduct the types of instrument approaches available at Horn Island and several other locations frequently used by the operator.
Final Report:

Crash of a Swearingen SA227AC Metro III in Lockhart River: 15 killed

Date & Time: May 7, 2005 at 1144 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-TFU
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Bamaga-Lockhart River-Cairns
MSN:
DC-818B
YOM:
1992
Flight number:
HC675
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
13
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
15
Captain / Total flying hours:
6071
Captain / Total hours on type:
3248.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
655
Copilot / Total hours on type:
150
Aircraft flight hours:
26877
Aircraft flight cycles:
28529
Circumstances:

On final approach to Lockhart River, the crew informed ATC that all was ok on board. Few seconds later, the aircraft crashed in a wooded area in the Iron Range mountains, 11 km short of runway 12. All occupants were killed.

Crash of a Cessna 208 Caravan in Cairns

Date & Time: Feb 8, 2004 at 1610 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-CYC
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Cairns-Cairns
MSN:
208-0108
YOM:
1986
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
5333
Captain / Total hours on type:
211.00
Circumstances:
The single engine aircraft crashed into the sea between Green Island and Cairns. Both pilots were performing a training flight from Cairns and were rescued by a ship's crew. The aircraft was destroyed and sunk. Crew misused the emergency power levers.

Crash of a Rockwell Shrike Commander 500S on Thornton Peak: 4 killed

Date & Time: Apr 10, 2001 at 0725 LT
Operator:
Registration:
VH-UJB
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Cairns - Hicks Island
MSN:
500-3152
YOM:
1973
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
3
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
4
Captain / Total flying hours:
9680
Captain / Total hours on type:
2402.00
Circumstances:
The aircraft departed Cairns airport at 0707 Eastern Standard Time (EST) on a charter flight to Hicks Island. The aircraft was being operated under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and the expected flight time was 2 hours. Shortly after takeoff the pilot requested an amended altitude of 4,000 ft. He indicated that he was able to continue flight with visual reference to the ground or water. Air Traffic Services (ATS) issued the amended altitude as requested. The IFR Lowest Safe Altitude for the initial route sector to be flown was 6,000 ft Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL). Data recorded by ATS indicated that approximately 13 minutes after departure, the aircraft disappeared from radar at a position 46NM north of Cairns. At the last known radar position the aircraft was cruising at a ground speed of 180 kts and at an altitude of 4,000 ft AMSL. An extensive search located the wreckage the following afternoon at a location consistent with the last known radar position, on the north-western side of Thornton Peak at an altitude of approximately 4,000 ft (1219 metres) AMSL. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire. The pilot and three passengers received fatal injuries. Thornton Peak is the third highest mountain in Queensland and is marked on topographic maps as 4,507 ft (1,374 metres) in elevation. Local residents reported that the mountain was covered by cloud and swept by strong winds for most of the year. The aircraft had been observed by witnesses approximately two minutes prior to impact cruising at high speed, on a constant north-westerly heading, in a wings level attitude and with flaps and landing gear retracted. They stated that the engines appeared to sound normal.
Probable cause:
Radar data recorded by Air Traffic Services and witness reports indicated that the aircraft was flying straight and level and maintaining a constant airspeed. Therefore, it is unlikely that the aircraft was experiencing any instrumentation or engine problems. Why the pilot continued flight into marginal weather conditions at an altitude that was insufficient to ensure terrain clearance, could not be established. The aircraft was flown at an altitude that was insufficient to ensure terrain clearance.
Final Report:

Crash of a Mitsubishi MU-2B-35 Marquise in the Pacific Ocean: 1 killed

Date & Time: Dec 9, 1988 at 0721 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N296MA
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Tulsa – Oakland – Honolulu – Majuro – Cairns
MSN:
592
YOM:
1973
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
During a flight at night from Majuro, Marshall Islands to Cairns, Australia, the pilot requested a descent from FL190 to 12,000 feet to remove ice from the airframe. Later, he requested a climb to FL200. After starting the climb, he made a mayday call to Sydney flight service and reported the aircraft was in an uncontrolled descent. No further transmission was received from the aircraft. The aircraft was presumed to have crashed at sea, about 370 miles east-northeast of Cairns. Neither the aircraft nor the pilot was found. Thunderstorms were reported in the area and the pilot reported being in the clouds during an earlier descent to 12,000 feet. An investigation revealed the aircraft was being ferried from Tulsa, OK. A previous pilot, who flew it to Oakland, refused to continue the flight due to a cabin pressurization problem. A 2nd pilot, who was going to continue the flight, returned to Oakland and landed the aircraft in an overweight condition, which resulted in structural damage. A 3rd pilot continued the flight, making stops in Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.
Probable cause:
Occurrence #1: missing aircraft
Phase of operation: unknown
Findings
1. (c) reason for occurrence undetermined
2. Operation with known deficiencies in equipment - performed - pilot in command
3. Light condition - dark night
4. Weather condition - thunderstorm
5. Weather condition - icing conditions
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Shrike Commander 500S in Mount Garnet

Date & Time: May 20, 1988 at 1750 LT
Operator:
Registration:
VH-SDI
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Kidston – Cairns
MSN:
500-3188
YOM:
1974
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The pilot was temporarily replacing the pilot who normally flew the aircraft. After arriving at Kidston he checked the fuel quantity gauge and decided that there was sufficient fuel on board for the return flight. As the aircraft approached top of climb, the pilot found that the fuel gauge indicated a lower fuel quantity than he had expected. He re-checked the indicated quantity after the aircraft was established in cruise and decided that sufficient fuel still remained to complete the planned flight. Shortly after passing Mt Garnet both engine fuel flow gauges began to fluctuate and the engines began to surge. The pilot immediately turned the aircraft towards the Mt Garnet strip, but shortly afterwards both engines failed. The pilot attempted to glide the aircraft to the strip, but it collided with trees and came to rest about one kilometre from the runway 27 threshold. All three occupants escaped with minor injuries and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
Probable cause:
Both engines had failed due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot normally flew a different type of aircraft, this aircraft only being used by the company to supplement its services. For company aircraft normal route fuel requirements are specified. As a result, there was little need for him to make significant fuel calculations. On this occasion, the pilot found he had little time between his arrival at Cairns and the scheduled DEPARTURE of his next flight. He ordered that only 80 litres of fuel be added to the aircraft tanks. The calculated fuel burn for the proposed return flight to Kidston was approximately 240 litres. However, on DEPARTURE from Cairns it was estimated that only about 220 litres of fuel was in the aircraft tanks. Refuelling facilities were available at Kidston but no fuel was added to the aircraft tanks.
The following factors were considered relevant to the development of the accident:
1. The aircraft design is such that the fuel quantity can only be determined by the gauge, unless the tanks are full.
2. The preflight preparation, in relation to fuel requirements, carried out by the pilot was inadequate.
3. The pilot lacked recent experience at more complex fuel calculations.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 402B in Mount Dianne: 5 killed

Date & Time: Feb 2, 1987 at 0639 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-TLQ
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Cairns – Mount Dianne
MSN:
402B-1236
YOM:
1977
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
7
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
The aircraft was the first of a group of four aircraft being used to return staff to an alluvial gold mine after a weekend break. The weather in the area of the destination was not suitable for a visual arrival and the aircraft was initially held for several minutes in an area five kilometres to the south of the strip, awaiting an improvement in the weather. The aircraft was then flown towards the strip and the pilot reported to a following aircraft that there had been a lot of rain and that the strip looked wet. He also advised that he intended to carry out a precautionary circuit and check if it was safe to land. No further transmissions were received from VH-TLQ. The wreckage of the aircraft was subsequently found burning in a river valley, 300 metres west of the threshold of runway 34. Surviving passengers stated that the aircraft struck trees shortly before impact. There were no ground witnesses. The aircraft had impacted the ground in a steep nose down left wing low attitude, at a low forward speed, then cartwheeled up rising ground before coming to rest inverted, 42 metres from the point of impact. The cabin area was destroyed by an ensuing fire.
Probable cause:
An inspection of wreckage did not reveal any mechanical defect or failure that could have contributed to the accident. The reasons for the apparent loss of control of the aircraft could not be determined.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-31-310 Navajo in Cairns: 8 killed

Date & Time: Sep 2, 1986 at 1408 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-CJB
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Cairns - Mount Isa
MSN:
31-249
YOM:
1968
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
7
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
8
Circumstances:
The pilot hired the aircraft privately from his employer to conduct a holiday flight during his leave. The journey commenced at Moorabbin on 25 August and the aircraft arrived at Cairns about midday 30 August, after stopovers at Coolangatta and Proserpine. The pilot and his passengers then spent the next three days at leisure in the Cairns area. On the day of the accident, the pilot attended the Cairns Briefing Office where he collected the relevant weather forecasts and submitted a flight plan. The flight plan indicated that the flight would be conducted in accordance with Instrument Flight Rules. It contained a deficiency in that no details were given for the first route segment from Cairns to Biboohra. It is apparent that the pilot had not noticed that the tracks to the west of Cairns, on the relevant enroute chart, emanate from Biboohra and not Cairns. There was no track line which joined Cairns and Biboohra. Such a line might have alerted the pilot at the time he planned the flight. The error in the flight plan was not detected when the plan was submitted. When the pilot was issued with an airways clearance prior to DEPARTURE it was apparent that he did not understand the terms of the clearance, which gave the initial tracking point as Biboohra. The location of this point was explained to the pilot and he subsequently accepted the clearance. He elected to depart using visual procedures, after being offered a choice of these or the published Standard Instrument DEPARTURE profile. A visual DEPARTURE from the particular runway in use allows an aircraft proceeding towards Biboorha to intercept the required track sooner than is possible with an instrument DEPARTURE. The aircraft was issued with takeoff instructions which included clearance for the pilot to make a right turn after takeoff. Witnesses observed that the aircraft complied with this clearance and headed in a southwesterly direction before turning to the north-west and subsequently entering cloud. The cloud base was estimated to be between 2000 and 2500 feet above mean sea level. No further communications were received from the aircraft and a search was commenced that afternoon. The search effort was hampered by the weather and the wreckage was not located until the following afternoon.
Probable cause:
Inspection of the wreckage indicated that the aircraft struck the the top of a ridge line, 250 metres south-west of the highest point of the Mt Williams area. At the time, the aircraft was on a west-north-westerly heading, flying wings level and climbing at a angle of about five degrees. No fault was found with the aircraft that could have contributed to the occurrence. At the time the aircraft entered cloud, the pilot should have reverted to Instrument Flight Rules procedures. To comply with these procedures a pilot is required, inter alia, to ensure that adequate terrain clearance is achieved during climb to the lowest safe altitude. The relevant altitude for the route segment Cairns to Biboohra is 4500 feet above mean sea level (amsl). As the aircraft was apparently under control at the time of impact with the ground at about 3250 feet amsl, it was likely that the pilot had overlooked the lowest safe altitude requirements.
Final Report:

Crash of a Mitsubishi MU-2B-30 Marquise in Cairns

Date & Time: Nov 15, 1983 at 0625 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
VH-CJP
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Townsville – Cairns
MSN:
505
YOM:
1970
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The aircraft was established on final by the pilot under check. A 5 knot downwind component prevailed. The flare was commenced higher than is normal and the airspeed decreased below the optimum. The pilot did not react to prompting by the the check-pilot but, at about 20 feet, retarded the throttles. The aircraft struck the runway heavily in a left wing low attitude and the left main and nose landing gear was torn off. Command responsibility for the flight was not discussed and the check-pilot was under the misapprehension that his role was only that of safety pilot. Due to flight rescheduling, the pilot under check slept for only two and a half hours prior to commencing duty. The autopilot was unserviceable and the pilot under check flew the aircraft by hand for most of the four flight legs. During the last leg the check-pilot twice simulated an engine failure. The second failure was simulated on final approach at about 7 DME. Power was reinstated shortly afterwards and the approach continued normally until close to the threshold. At this time the pilot under check had been on duty for five and a half hours and the check-pilot for over twelve hours. Overseas research has shown that subtle errors in visual perception may be induced by an event which causes stress, and that this condition may persist for several minutes after the event. Fatigue may aggravate the problem. The errors in perception are the result of changes in focal length of the lens of the eye caused by the physiological effects of the stress resulting from the event. The experimental research and information from accident data has provided evidence that the effect of the changes in focal length may cause a pilot on final approach to perceive a runway to be on a higher plane than it actually is. In this case, with the particular combination of factors prevailing at the time, it is possible that the imposition of a simulated engine failure on approach within a few minutes prior to the final landing of a long and fatiguing night's operations caused a stress reaction in the pilot under check. The level of stress induced in this fatigued pilot may have been sufficient to cause the kind of perceptual error described above. The runway would thus appear to the pilot slightly higher than it actually was. His judgement of flare height, being based on this false perception, would therefore be incorrect.
Probable cause:
Schedule changed; auto-pilot unserviceable; both pilots fatigued; command responsibility unresolved; pilot under check misjudged flare; check-pilot did not take over in time to recover control. Possible Factor Visual perception errors resulting from stress induced by the pilot's reaction to the simulated engine failure.
Final Report: