Dead pilot lacked skill to land on strip - CAA

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2012

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Mobile phone footage showing a pilot's aborted landing and death after nosediving on the Arrowtown Golf Course has led to a call to develop pilots' skills for private airstrip landings.

The plane crash happened almost a year ago, when Tauranga pilot Ian Douglas Sloan, 59, and two passengers flying from Invercargill tried to touch down on a privately owned airstrip known as Monk's Strip, next to the golf course, on October 17.

The Civil Aviation Authority's aircraft accident report said no flight recorder was fitted to the plane, but analysis of iPhone footage shot by a front-seat passenger figured heavily in the findings.

The report found the pilot's decision to abort his initial landing attempt was "probably due to the fact he had realised he would not have been able stop the aircraft in the distance remaining" before hitting a boundary fence.

However, the pullout from the aborted landing was complicated as he sharply banked left to avoid powerlines and willow trees and escape turbulence.

Steep mountain terrain, with the top of the Crown Range covered in cloud, may have then played a critical part in the crash.

"It is possible the pilot may have been fooled by a false horizon and therefore continued to raise the aircraft's nose to establish what he perceived to be the correct climb attitude.

"This action would result in the aircraft's airspeed reducing to the point of a stall unless corrective action was taken."

Moderate turbulence and a crosswind played a big part in the "pullout" attempt and eventual stall but "the pilot's actions for stall recovery were incorrect".

However, even if a stall recovery procedure was carried out correctly "there was probably insufficient altitude available to ensure a safe recovery", the report said.

The two passengers in the plane suffered serious injuries, but the angle at which the fuselage fell after nosediving into the ground meant that the diagonal restraint over Mr Sloan's left shoulder was ineffective as he was thrown right, receiving fatal head injuries and facial fractures when he struck an instrument panel.

The authority's safety promotion unit will work toward developing information and additional training for relevant pilots.

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- The Southland Times

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