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Source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

One of an Angel Aircraft Corporation Model 44 aircraft’s two engines was heard to ‘splutter’ soon after take-off from Mareeba Airport, Queensland, shortly before the aircraft collided with terrain, fatally injuring the two pilots on board, an ATSB investigation’s preliminary report into the 14 December 2019 accident notes.

The aircraft had been conducting a flight review — a regular assessment flight undertaken by all qualified pilots — with a Grade 1 flight instructor seated in the right seat and the owner pilot of the aircraft seated in the left seat.

The aircraft had commenced its initial take-off run just before 11.00am, with witnesses reporting that it sounded like one of the engines was hesitating or misfiring during the take-off roll, and with black sooty smoke seen trailing from the right engine.

Once airborne, the aircraft headed for the airfield’s training area. After eight minutes in the training area, the pilot seated on the left broadcast they were inbound to Mareeba and two minutes later broadcast that they were joining crosswind for runway 28. No further transmissions were heard from the aircraft.

An engine was then heard to splutter as the aircraft climbed to between 300 and 450 feet.

Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft touch down on the runway and take off again. An engine was then heard to splutter as the aircraft climbed to between 300 and 450 feet above ground level. The aircraft was next seen above a banana plantation beyond the end of the runway in a right descending turn, before it suddenly rolled right. Witnesses saw the right wing drop to near vertical and the aircraft collided with terrain in a cornfield.

Subsequent examination of the wreckage by ATSB transport safety investigators indicated the aircraft impacted terrain right wingtip first, followed by the nose, and left wingtip. The aircraft then pivoted about the left wing with the fuselage coming to a rest upright.

“The ATSB’s ongoing investigation will focus on further examination of the recovered engines and propellers, maintenance and operational records, aircraft and site survey data, pilot qualifications, experience and medical history, and regulatory requirements for flight reviews,” Dr Stuart Godley, ATSB Director Transport Safety, said.

Dr Godley noted that preliminary reports outline basic factual information established in the early phase of an investigation.

“Preliminary reports do not contain findings, identify contributing factors or outline safety issues and actions,” Dr Godley said. “These will be detailed in an investigation’s final report.”

Read the preliminary report: AO-2019-072: Collision with terrain involving Angel Aircraft Corp 44, VH-IAZ, near Mareeba Airport, Queensland, on 14 December 2019

Last update 11 February 2020