Fatal plane crash: Investigators release initial report
WEATHER conditions and pre-flight preparation are among areas of focus into an ongoing investigation into a fatal small plane collision which saw the death of its two passengers on January 12.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's preliminary report details that the amateur-built Wittman Tailwind light aircraft, registered VH-TWQ, had departed Evans Head, NSW, bound for Boonah, Queensland, with the pilot and one passenger on board, operating under visual flight rules (VFR).
Brothers Robert Bryan Dull, 68, of Toowoomba and Owen Stanley Dull, 61, of Roadvale, were killed in the crash.
Robert had built the plane as a labour of love over the past few years.
The report notes the aircraft flew in a north-westerly direction towards Boonah before commencing a 180 degree turn overhead the township of Kyogle and diverting to the south to Casino.
After about 45 minutes on the ground, the aircraft departed Casino to continue the flight to Boonah.
About 15 minutes later, the aircraft was flying over the Tooloom National Park when recorded data shows it commenced a left turn before shortly afterwards colliding with terrain.
The pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.
Due to the damage to the airframe, the aircraft's attitude when it entered the tree canopy could not be determined.
Subsequent examination of the wreckage by ATSB transport safety investigators indicated that the aircraft collided with a number of trees before coming to rest on the rainforest floor.
The aircraft's structure was substantially disrupted, with the wreckage trail covering a length of about 120 metres.
"The ATSB's ongoing investigation will include examination of the meteorological conditions and pre-flight preparation," ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod said. "Investigators will also examine the recovered wreckage, the aircraft's performance characteristics and recorded flight data, and analyse the pilot's qualifications and experience and the aircraft's maintenance documentation and operational records."
Mr Macleod said the investigation was still in its early stages, and the ATSB will not publish its findings until the final investigation report was released.
"However, the ATSB does note that meteorological conditions and preflight planning are areas of focus for this investigation, and weather-related general aviation accidents remain one of the ATSB's most significant causes for concern in aviation safety," he said.