Following the recent plane crash in Geraldton which sadly resulted in the loss of life for the pilot, the ATSB has issued advice to pilots and owners of aircraft pending further investigations.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) advises owners, operators and pilots of aircraft with canopies to review the adequacy of their existing measures that are intended to ensure canopies are securely latched before flight (such as pre-take-off checks and warning systems), and the actions in case of inadvertent canopy opening during take-off.
The have issued the following update of their investigation thus far to the public.
On 18 September 2013, the owner-pilot of Lancair Legacy aircraft, registered VH-ALP, was intending to conduct a private flight from Geraldton to Newman, Western Australia. At 1545 Western Standard Time the pilot taxied at Geraldton Airport for runway 32, an 884 m sealed strip. The pilot began the take-off roll with substantial engine power and the aircraft was observed to accelerate normally to about halfway along the runway. At this point, smoke from the main wheels indicated that the brakes were applied momentarily, and at about the same time the forward-hinged canopy opened about 15 to 30 cm. No change to engine power was evident and the take-off roll continued. The pilot lifted off with runway to spare and climbed to about 100 to 150 ft above groundlevel. The pilot banked to the left and during the turn the canopy opened further so that itwas at an estimated angle of 30°. Variouspeople on the ground saw the aircraft flying low and fast with the canopy open. The pilot appeared to be manoeuvring for a landing on runway 08 but the aircraft wheels hit a road kerb short of the airport perimeter. The aircraft then collided with the perimeter fence and became entangled as it overturned (picture). Shortly after, an intense fire engulfed the aircraft.
Picture: Accident site showing the road curb and airport perimeter fence
Bystanders tried to extinguish the fire with handheld fire extinguishers and a water truck but were unable to have immediate effect. The pilot was rescued from the wreckage and treated for, but later succumbed to his injuries. The investigation is continuing and will include a: review of information relevant to aircraft operation review of similar occurrences download of data from cockpit instrumentation. In the interim, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) advises owners, operators and pilots of aircraft with canopies to review the adequacy of their existing measures that are intended to ensure canopies are securely latched before flight (such as pre-take-off checks and warning systems), and the actions in case of inadvertent canopy opening during take-off. It is anticipated that the investigation report will be released to the public no later than February 2014.
The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this web update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.
You can read the original release here: http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2013/aair/ao-2013-158.aspx