• The accident site of VH-TSA near Tomahawk in Tasmania. (ATSB)
    The accident site of VH-TSA near Tomahawk in Tasmania. (ATSB)

Landing with a significant tailwind contributed to the fatal accident of a Cessna 182 near Tomahawk, Tasmania, in January last year according to the ATSB report released today.

VH-TSA was on a flight from Sheffield to a private airstrip at Tomahawk in the state's north-east when it crashed attempting to go-around. The pilot was severely injured, but the passenger, Tasmanian AWPA president Sandra Southwell, died in the crash.

The investigation revealed that the pilot elected to land into the west on the 700-metre runway, which gave the aircraft a tailwind estimated at 15 knots. The airstrip owner, seeing the approach, tried to warn the pilot away by driving on the runway in a car and flashing the headlights, but the aircraft continued to land.

"Tyre marks on the grass identified that the aircraft first touched down 433 m beyond the runway threshold, with 284 m of runway remaining,"the ATSB report states. "Subsequent wheel marks showed that the aircraft then bounced several times, with the last wheel marks visible on the runway 161 m before a 7 m high tree located on rising terrain 36 m beyond the end of the runway."

Although the pilot initiated a go-around, the Cessna struck the tree and crashed into the ground.

The ATSB ascertained that although the winds aloft were westerly, the wind at ground level at Tomahawk was forecast to be easterly at 19 knots. Witnesses on the ground stated that the wind was almost as forecast.

The ATSB also cited an unstable and unconventional approach also contributed to the aircraft touching down so far into the runway, and that the C182 Pilot's Operating Handbook showed that the aircraft would not outclimb the height of the tree in the configuration set in the with the remaining runway distance.

The full investigation report is on the ATSB website.


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