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A pilot and two passengers walked away from a forced plane landing near a Hunter coal mine

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Bumpy: A Beech Duchess aircraft after landing in a grassy field near the Ravensworth coal mine complex on June 1, 2018. The pilot was forced to call 'Mayday' after an engine failed and the plane continued to lose altitude.

Bumpy: A Beech Duchess aircraft after landing in a grassy field near the Ravensworth coal mine complex on June 1, 2018. The pilot was forced to call 'Mayday' after an engine failed and the plane continued to lose altitude.

 

But the first the two passengers knew of any problems was when the twin-engine Beech Duchess plane hit the ground with the landing gear retracted and slid down a slope, while the pilot “yawed the plane aircraft sideways in an attempt to slow down”.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report of the June 1, 2018 incident does not record how the passengers reacted, but all three walked away from an emergency landing that left the Duchess seriously damaged.

 

The ATSB said the premature end to the Coonamble to Cessnock flight showed the importance of correctly responding after an engine failure in a twin-engine plane, and a safety briefing for passengers before every flight.

 

The two passengers were wearing earmuffs not connected to the aircraft intercom rather than headsets for the short flight that left Coonamble eight minutes before last light.

 

So they were unaware of problems 50 minutes later when the aircraft yawed to the right as it started a descent from 7500 feet as it neared Cessnock airport and the right engine recorded a loss of power.

 

The pilot told ATSB investigators he followed an engine failure checklist including increasing the fuel mix, increasing propeller revs, advancing throttles and ensuring landing gear was retracted. He turned the carburettor heater on to deal with potential icing, but when the engine failed to respond he started reconfiguring the plane to fly on a single engine.

 

Emergency: A plane didn't make it to Cessnock airport on June 1, 2018 after a forced landing in a grassy field near the Ravensworth coal mine complex following engine failure.

Emergency: A plane didn't make it to Cessnock airport on June 1, 2018 after a forced landing in a grassy field near the Ravensworth coal mine complex following engine failure.

This included “feathering” the propeller to reduce drag that prevents a plane maintaining altitude.

 

But the plane continued to descend until the pilot considered diverting to Scone airport until he rejected the plan because of housing near the air strip.

 

“He decided to continue to Cessnock,” the ATSB said.

 

At 6.27pm the pilot declared “Mayday” after calculating the descent rate would not allow the Duchess to clear hills before Cessnock airport. He advised air traffic control he did not believe the plane would reach the airstrip and by 6.30pm was looking for a forced landing area.

 

He chose an area near Ravensworth mine complex because “he knew that flat areas, clear of vegetation, were located next to the mines”.

 

“With no intercom-connected headsets to communicate with the passengers, the pilot did not attempt to warn them and focused on flying the aircraft. The front seat passenger later reported he was not aware of the impending forced landing,” the ATSB said.

 

The plane “touched down in a grassy field on the underside of the fuselage and slid over a slope”, the bureau said.

 

After sliding sideways it came to rest and “the pilot and passengers then evacuated the aircraft using the left cabin door”.

 

“They were not injured but the aircraft was substantially damaged,” the report said. 

 

It found the Duchess’s right engine failed most likely because of carburettor icing, and the plane was unable to maintain altitude because of increased drag when the propeller did not “feather”.

  • Informative 2

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The pilot did a good job, except that he did not clear the carbie ice, if that was the real cause of the accident.

Not good for the passengers to not have any idea of what was happening. How can a pilot ensure they are complying with the required safety procedures if he cannot talk to them. He couldn't even suggest they tighten their seat belts.

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. That plane won't fly without it's inoperative engine being properly feathered. No chance. It has to be at the right  airspeed and trimmed to reduce rate of height loss to a minimum. . Good engine on max continuous. THEN do a restart if you are not too busy. flying it. This illustrates how critical the twins can be . Much worse if you have just lifted off  the ground  and have no height to spare...Nev

Edited by facthunter

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 It's not a similar situation as the suss engine was still giving some power.. IF you have plenty of height all things are possible. The way these planes are certified they "just" fly on " one" when new at legal weight for conditions, if flown correctly. Dead engine feathered and secured and cowl gills closed. Correct performance and control speeds adhered to. and fuel managed. "Smart" pilots keep  well above normal descent  profile,  same as a single engined aircraft failure does if planned properly.  Nev

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The report (2002) indicates that the right engine "failed" due to no fuel in the right tank, so it's unlikely that it was producing any useful power.   

  • Agree 1

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 That may be . It was not the way I read it. Are you suggesting that feathering the engine is not  significant/critical in these situations? Nev

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Feathering obviously makes a huge difference from drifting down to being able to climb on one. The 2002 pilot did at least manage the drift down rather well although it would have been prudent to land sooner. 

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