Turbulence, speed led plane to break up
TURBULENCE and speed caused by a storm cell may have caused an “inflight breakup” of a light plane that crashed in the Northern Territory, killing two young pilots.
Darcy McCarter, 23, and Daniel Burrill, 33, were repatriating an indigenous man’s body from Darwin to Elcho Island in October when their Cessna 210 lost its wings, ripped through bushland and crashed on a rural road 30km from the airport.
“Witnesses in the vicinity of Howard Springs saw the aircraft descend rapidly in a relatively flat attitude with a portion of each wing missing,” a preliminary Australian Transport Safety Bureau report found.
Both pilots were secured in their seats prior to the aircraft hitting the ground after a vertical descent.
The charter plane accelerated to 150 knots in the final minute of the flight, above the manoeuvring speed of 118 knots, and when this occurs turbulence can produce damaging wing loading.
“At airspeeds above about 145 knots, this loading can result in failure of the aircraft structure,” the report noted.