2005 January: Dirranbandi (Qld) Crop Duster Accident

Qld: Cropduster’s inexperience may have caused crash, says ATSB

 AAP General News (Australia)
Qld: Cropduster’s inexperience may have caused crash, says ATSB

BRISBANE, April 26 AAP – A lack of experience in night flying contributed to the death
of a crop duster pilot in western Queensland, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

A 44-year-old pilot, from Bourke in NSW, was found dead in the cockpit of an Air Tractor
AT-802A aircraft after it went down at 8.35pm (AEST) on January 6, 2005, on Wynella Station,
a remote cotton property south of Dirranbandi near the NSW border.

It burst into flames on impact and the pilot was found still strapped in his seat in
the burning aircraft.

In a report released today, the ATSB said the pilot, who had not sprayed the property
before, told support staff on the ground shortly before his fatal flight that he was anxious
about the lack of horizon due to the dark conditions on a cloudy and moonless night.

The investigation into the crash showed the aircraft was capable of normal operation
at the time but even though the pilot had substantial flying and agricultural flying experience,
he had only recently completed night agricultural flight training.

A post-mortem examination also revealed he had suffered from severe coronary heart disease.

The ATSB report said the aircraft had hit level ground in a wings-level position.

But the bureau came to no definitive conclusions, citing the lack of recorded and witness
information and the destruction of the cockpit in the fire.

“However, the combination of pilot inexperience in night agricultural operations and
the dark night conditions increased the risk of an accident,” the ATSB said.