The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released the preliminary report from its ongoing investigation involving an amateur-built Osprey 2 amphibious light aircraft near Maitland Airport on 17 May.
The preliminary report, which details basic factual information established in the investigation’s early evidence collection phase, confirms that the aircraft had departed Maitland Airport with the pilot as the sole occupant to conduct a test flight. This was to be the amateur-built* aircraft’s third flight, operating under a special certificate of airworthiness – experimental, which required that 25 hours of flight-testing be conducted.
“The planned flight involved climbing to 3,000 feet to conduct flight-testing over the airfield,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod. “However, about three minutes after taking off to the south-west from Maitland’s runway 23, witnesses on the ground at the airfield observed white smoke coming from the aircraft.”
After being contacted on the radio, the pilot noted the engine was running rough and informed of the intention to return for a landing on runway 23 (from the north-east).
The engine subsequently failed completely and the pilot reported changing to runway 08, to land from the west.
“While on approach to runway 08, the aircraft was then observed to roll to the left, descend and impact the ground,” Mr Macleod said.
The pilot sustained fatal injuries and the aircraft was destroyed.
Mr Macleod noted ATSB preliminary reports do not contain findings, identify contributing factors or outline safety issues and actions, which are detailed in an investigation’s final report.
“The investigation is continuing and will include examination of the aircraft’s engine, maintenance documentation and operational records along with build documentation. Investigators will also examine recovered instruments and electronic devices, the aircraft’s performance characteristics and recorded flight data, and the pilot’s qualifications and experience,” Mr Macleod said.
“During the course of the investigation, should safety critical information be discovered at any time, the ATSB will immediately notify stakeholders so that appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.”
* The Civil Aviation Safety Authority defines an amateur-built aircraft as an aircraft, the major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by a person or persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation.
You can find here the preliminary report AO-2020-028: Collision with terrain involving an Osprey 2 amphibian aircraft, VH-WID, near Maitland Airport, NSW, on 17 May 2020