Unstable approach preceded runway excursion

An unstable approach due to excessive height and airspeed contributed to an Airvan charter aircraft overrunning the runway on landing at Rat Island, Western Australia, an ATSB investigation has found.

On the morning of 6 April 2023, the GippsAero GA8 Airvan with a pilot and six passengers onboard departed from Geraldton Airport for Rat Island, part of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands archipelago.

During the landing, the aircraft floated for a significant time and touched down approximately halfway down the runway, with insufficient remaining runway to stop. The pilot reported applying heavy braking, however the aircraft traversed the runway overshoot area and came to rest on the island’s edge, tipping forward into shallow seawater.

Neither the pilot nor 6 passengers were injured during the landing or when evacuating the aircraft.

ATSB analysis of recorded data from the aircraft and video footage taken from the front passenger seat showed the aircraft was unstable during the approach to land, due to excessive height and airspeed.

“An unstable approach can contribute to the risk of a runway excursion, as occurred in this case,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod said.

“Pilots should be prepared to conduct a go-around if the stabilised approach criteria are not met.

“The later a go-around is made, the more likely that additional hazards will be present for pilots to manage.”

Since the accident, the operator, Shine Aviation Services, has taken safety actions to improve pilot landing and late-stage go-around training for their single- and multi-engine piston aircraft.

An increased oversight program has also been implemented to provide more regular mentoring for junior flight crew.

You can find here the final report: Runway excursion involving GippsAero GA8, registration VH-TBU, Rat Island, Western Australia on 6 April 2023

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