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Powerline crash Cessna 172 hit the ground nose-first

written by Adam Thorn | June 7, 2021
Garmin GPS and OzRunways flight tracks shown relative to the accident site (ATSB)

An ATSB investigation into the fatal crash of a Cessna 172 that was conducting powerline work in the Yass Valley has revealed the aircraft entered into a spin before crashing nose-first into the ground.

The preliminary report into the incident, which took place near Sutton, north of Canberra, on 13 April, said witnesses saw the Oberon Aviation Services aircraft fly low above the trees before commencing a left banking turn followed by a steep descent.

The 31-year-old pilot from country Victoria and an 18-year-old from Albury, NSW, were found dead when police arrived at the scene.

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The report details that the aircraft, a Cessna R172K registered VH-DLA, had departed Canberra Airport with a pilot and observer on board to conduct power line survey work to the north of Sutton, NSW.

“To date, ATSB transport safety investigators have examined the aircraft wreckage, mapped the accident site with a drone, retrieved relevant aircraft components for further analysis, interviewed witnesses and the aircraft operator, downloaded flight-related electronic data, and collected weather information,” said the ATSB’s director of transport safety, Stuart Macleod.

Macleod noted the preliminary report does not include any safety findings or analysis, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report.

“As the investigation progresses, the ATSB will continue to analyse the aircraft’s flight path and recorded data, and review pilot qualifications, maintenance records and the operator’s procedures for conducting flight survey aerial work,” he said.

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A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

In a statement released at the time of the accident, Oberon Aviation Services said it would leave “no stone unturned” in uncovering the cause of the crash.

“This is a very difficult time for us – we’re a small aviation business company, and family, and have lost two of our members,” the statement read.

“Our focus right now is to provide support for the families of our crew members, and our staff, as we all grieve this loss.”

The pair were performing aerial inspections of powerlines for electricity supplier Essential Energy.

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