The fatal crash of a Avtex Air Services Fairchild Metro III VH-OZA off the NSW coast in 2008 was likely to have been caused by pilot spatial disorientation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has determined.
The Metro had just taken off from Sydney en route to Brisbane on a freight charter run on April 9 2008 when it crashed into the sea approximately one kilometre off Jibbons Beach on Sydney’s south. The single pilot onboard died in the accident.
“The investigation determined that it was highly likely that the pilot took off without alternating current electrical power supplied to the aircraft’s primary flight instruments, including the pilot’s artificial horizon and both flight recorders. It is most likely that the lack of a primary attitude reference during the night takeoff led to pilot spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control of the aircraft,” the ATSB said in its final report.
The ATSB said the reason for the AC failure could not be determined, and “The reason that the pilot commenced or continued the takeoff with any or all of
those warnings [indicating an issue with the AC power] displayed could not be explained.”
The ATSB also noted that: “A significant safety issue was identified in respect of the aircraft operator’s training and checking of its pilots. As a result of audits conducted following the accident, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority imposed a number of conditions on the operator’s air operator’s certificate that were reportedly actioned by the operator.”
The ATSB’s more than three year investigation into the crash was made difficult as the recovered flight data recorder contained no data from the flight in question.
CASA subsequently suspended the AOCs of Avtex and its related company Skymaster Air Services in June last year after a Skymaster PA-31P crashed onto Canley Vale Road, 6km short of Sydney’s Bankstown Airport, last June, killing the pilot and his nurse passenger.