• An ATSB diagram showing the path of the P210 as it arrived overhead Moruya. (Google Earth annotated by the ATSB)
    An ATSB diagram showing the path of the P210 as it arrived overhead Moruya. (Google Earth annotated by the ATSB)

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has highlighted issues in pre-flight planning after a Cessna P210 turbine crashed short of the runway at Moruya Airport, NSW, in December 2019.

US-registered P210 Silver Eagle N210BA crashed attempting an engine-out approach to runway 18 after the engine stopped in flight due to icing. The aircraft was destroyed, but both the pilot and the passenger survived.

N210BA, fitted with a Rolls-Royce 250 turbo-prop engine, was on a flight from Bankstown to Cambridge, Tas, when the aircraft began to accumulate ice at FL180. The pilot requested FL160 to avoid further icing and shut down the de-icing system at the lower level. Not long after, the engine stopped and couldn't be re-started.

After diverting to Moruya, the aircraft arrived in the circuit area at 8000 feet AGL, but carried out significant manoeuvring to position the aircraft for runway 18. However, the aircraft crashed into terrain 560 metres from the threshold.

The flight was planned and conducted in known icing conditions even though the aircraft was not certified to do so.

An ATSB investigation report released this week found that the engine stopped due to ice ingestion and couldn't be re-started because of temporary thermal rotor lock.

“This investigation highlights that thorough knowledge of an aircraft’s limitations and systems, in combination with an understanding of hazardous weather and aviation meteorological products, is critical to safe and effective flight operations,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.

“Icing conditions can be extremely hazardous to aircraft. Every icing encounter, to some extent, is unique and unpredictable.

“Where the aircraft is not certified or equipped to operate in icing conditions, any ice-protection systems on the airframe, propeller, or engine should be regarded as a means to provide time to exit unexpected icing conditions, not to continue to operate in those conditions.”

The ATSB also found that the aircraft arrived at Moruya with sufficient height to carry out a successful forced landing at the airport, but initial manouvres didn't leave enough altitude for the pilot to make the runway threshold.

The full report is on the ATSB website.

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