An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation into the fatal crash of a twin-engined Angel 44 has found the accident occurred during a simulated engine failure after take-off.
The rare pusher twin was on a training flight from Mareeba Airport in December last year when it crashed in a corn field shortly after take-off. Both the pilots and the instructor were killed in the crash and the aircraft completely destroyed.
“The ATSB found that shortly after take-off, the flight instructor very likely conducted a simulated failure of the right engine on a warm, humid day at a high aerodrome elevation in a configuration in which the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude with one engine inoperative,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Dr Stuart Godley.
“Power was not immediately restored to the right engine to discontinue the exercise and the pilots were unable to maintain altitude or heading, particularly with the aircraft banked towards the inoperative engine.
“The pilots did not reduce power and land ahead, as required by the aircraft’s flight manual, resulting in a loss of directional control and the aircraft rolling to the right. The loss of control occurred at a height too low to recover and the aircraft impacted terrain in a cornfield 475 metres north of the runway.”
The ATSB also noted that it had been two years since the aircraft had been flown constantly, and the pilot hadn't flown for three years before the crash, which may have resulted in decayed skills.
Although witnesses heard the right engine spluttering before the crash and the ATSB found corrosion particles in two of the fuel injectors, investigators didn't believe this accounted for the a loss of power on that engine. The spluttering was thought to be consistent with the throttle being closed to simulate a failure.
The report also concluded that the instructor, who was unfamiliar with the Angel 44, may have underestimated the time taken to retract the gear and flap on the type and the loss of performance that resulted with one engine out.
The full report is on the ATSB website.