A home-built Osprey 2 that crashed into a NSW backyard in May, killing its pilot, was conducting only its third flight, an ATSB preliminary report has revealed.
Royal Newcastle Aero Club member Andy Shepherd, 44, tragically died after his amphibious aircraft, VH-WID, started spewing smoke just minutes after take-off from Maitland Airport at about 2,000 feet in the air.
The early preliminary report gave no hints as to what caused the crash in the Hunter region of NSW, but was able to shed light on the events of the day.
“The planned flight involved climbing to 3,000 feet to conduct flight-testing over the airfield,” said ATSB’s director of transport safety, Stuart Macleod.
“However, about three minutes after taking off to the south-west from Maitland’s runway 23, witnesses on the ground at the airfield observed white smoke coming from the aircraft.”
After being contacted on the radio, the pilot noted the engine was running rough and informed of the intention to return for a landing on runway 23 (from the north-east).
The engine subsequently failed completely and the pilot reported changing to runway 08, to land from the west.
“While on approach to runway 08, the aircraft was then observed to roll to the left, descend and impact the ground,” Macleod said.
Macleod emphasised that ATSB preliminary reports do not usually contain findings, which will not come for many months when a full investigation has been conducted.
“The investigation is continuing and will include an examination of the aircraft’s engine, maintenance documentation and operational records along with build documentation. Investigators will also examine recovered instruments and electronic devices, the aircraft’s performance characteristics and recorded flight data, and the pilot’s qualifications and experience,” Macleod said.
“During the course of the investigation, should safety-critical information be discovered at any time, the ATSB will immediately notify stakeholders so that appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.”
Australian Aviation earlier reported how Shepherd’s friend, Bill Coote, paid tribute to the Englishman, calling him an “extremely professional, highly qualified pilot and RAAS engineer”.
“He was very personable, keen pilot. My wife and I are very cut up about it,” he said.