Chief Flying Instructor Views
- Friday, 28 April 2017 05:22
A short background of facts of the incident on 27th April 2017 involving Professional Pilot Training’s Be76 VH-SRO Aircraft
On the 27th of April 2017 one of Professional Pilot Training’s aircraft, namely a Beechcraft Duchess VH- SRO was being flown on a local flight by a Professional Pilot Training trainee instructor pilot, who was flying circuits to maintain pilot currency. There were two passengers on the flight. The flight departed from Coffs Harbour Airport.
On the second circuit the nose wheel failed to extend. The pilot notified the tower controller and completed an emergency extension in accordance with flight manual procedures, but the nose gear still did not extend.
The pilot contacted the Chief Pilot by telephone connected through his headset and all options were explored to extend the nose gear. The regular maintenance organisation was consulted and further attempts were made to extend the gear without success. The pilot was instructed to complete a low pass down the runway so as the Chief Pilot, Senior Base Instructor and Tower Controller could visually check the position of the nose gear; they all confirmed that the nose gear was fully retracted.
In joint discussion with the pilot and Chief Pilot a decision was made to divert to Archerfield to make the landing. The reasoning behind the decision was that the aeroplane had a high fuel state and at least two hours of fuel needed to be burnt to reduce the fire risk on impact and the flight time to Archerfield was less than two hours. Other considerations were that the main gear was retracting so the en-route performance of the aircraft was not degraded by the failed landing gear.
At Coffs Harbour the landing options were the main runway which has a very smooth surface or the short runway with has an undulating sealed surface. A landing on the main runway would close the aerodrome and several flights were en-route to Coffs Harbour. Further, there are no maintenance workshops at Coffs Harbour and a limited capacity to remove a damaged aeroplane from the runway without causing more damage to the aeroplane.
The pilot diverted to Archerfield and Coffs Tower coordinated with Archerfield Tower for an emergency landing on runway 28L which has a parallel runway and maintenance operators that could rapidly remove the aeroplane without further damage.
En-route to Archerfield the pilot discussed how to land the aeroplane with the Chief Pilot. All loose articles were stowed in the luggage compartment and the landing configuration, brace positions, preparation for impact and evacuation including unlocking the doors on finals were discussed and where possible practiced.
After arriving at Archerfield the Pilot elected to circle while burning fuel to reduce the fire risk and then made his approach within daylight.
The landing was well flown and one could only describe it as copy book accuracy. The evacuation occurred rapidly and Paramedics examined the pilot and passengers immediately after the evacuation and released them after finding no injuries. The pilot was interviewed by the local police.
Following Standard Operating Procedures, the pilot and passengers were instructed not to make any comments to any person including the media and they were returned to Coffs Harbour as soon as possible.
The Chief Pilot comments that this was the best result that could be achieved in the situation. The pilot is a recent graduate, he kept cool and followed published procedures and he took advice from all concerned who could help him. He was immaculately prepared and competently executed the landing and evacuation.
Professional Pilot Training Pty Ltd Background
Professional Pilot Training (PPT) specialises in training Airline Cadets to a standard acceptable to Air Niugini and other airlines in multi-engine aeroplanes. PPT has excellent standards and safety records and for the entire 17 years of its operation PPT has not sustained any injuries during flying operations.
Certain Media Reports Were Inaccurate
Firstly, a certain media outlet incorrectly claimed that there were 3 people injured, when there were no injuries sustained in the flight of VH-SRO on the 27th of April 2017.
Secondly, the same media outlet reported incorrectly that in 2014 Professional Pilot Training and the aircraft concerned were involved in a major incident that required extensive investigation. This is not correct; Professional Pilot Training did not own and was not operating the particular aircraft in 2014. We took possession of SRO on the 18th of May 2015.
The media outlet has also reported that the pilot and passengers had a “lucky” escape, but PPT notes there was no luck involved. The pilot is well trained and competent, was well advised and supported by Airservices Australia, the maintenance organisation, fire and rescue services and his company, Professional Pilot Training.