Preliminary Report Into Camden C172 Accident

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released a preliminary report from its ongoing investigation into a Cessna 172 light aircraft accident near Camden Airport, in south-west Sydney in January.

The report details factual information established in the early evidence collection phase of the ATSB’s investigation, but contains no analysis or findings, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report.

On 24 January 2024, a student pilot was conducting a solo flight in the four-seat Cessna when, toward the end of the downwind leg of a planned circuit around Camden Airport at 1,400 ft, the aircraft descended before colliding with terrain in a paddock.

The pilot was fatally injured, and the aircraft was destroyed.

The ATSB’s preliminary report notes the accident flight was the pilot’s first solo in the Cessna 172 after 6.1 hours in the type with an instructor. The pilot had also completed 51.3 hours of flying under a Recreational Aviation Australia pilot certificate, including 4.1 hours of solo flight in a two-seat, single-engine Skyfox Gazelle.

“The instructor, who flew with the student pilot on flights immediately preceding the accident flight, reported the student demonstrated exceptional aircraft handling proficiency,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Dr Stuart Godley said.

“The instructor assessed them as competent and ready for their first solo in the Cessna 172.”

CCTV footage showed the aircraft collided with terrain at high speed, wings level and with an attitude of about 60° nose-down.

An on-site examination of the wreckage established pre-impact flight control continuity, and that the engine was producing power at impact. There was no evidence of an in-flight break-up or other pre-impact airframe or control defects.

Along with the on-site examination, so far in the investigation the ATSB has recovered aircraft components and other items for further examination and interviewed the operator’s head of flying operations and the student pilot’s instructors.

“As the investigation progresses, the ATSB will examine relevant documentation and aircraft components and other items recovered from the accident site,” Dr Godley explained.

“Further analysis will also examine the flight path information gathered from CCTV recordings and flight data.”

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

“Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” Dr Godley concluded.

You can find here the preliminary report: Collision with terrain involving Cessna 172S, VH-CPQ, 1.9 NM west of Camden Airport, NSW on 24 January 2024

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