‘Right wing broke off in midair’: Details released of crash that killed aerobatic pilot
The right wing of a high-performance sport aircraft broke off in midair before it crashed at a farm outside Pretoria East, the SA Civil Aviation Authority has revealed in a preliminary report.
According to the report, pilot Neville Ferreira met the owner of the two-seat Rand KR-2 aircraft at the Kitty Hawk Aerodrome (FAKT) in the Boschkop area, east of Pretoria, on the morning of October 28.
The owner of the aircraft informed investigators that he had approved Ferreira to fly the aircraft. At the time, Ferreira had not flown since October 10 due to his aircraft being under maintenance.
A detailed preflight inspection was conducted with no abnormalities found, the report stated.
The owner told investigators that the aircraft’s fuel tank had about 22-litres of mixed Avgas LL100 and Mogas fuel. About 10 minutes after the preflight inspection, the pilot boarded the aircraft and fastened his safety harness.
“Thereafter, he started the engine and waited until all the indications were within the green arch before taxiing the aircraft to the threshold of Runway 01.
“At about 1020Z [10.20am], the aircraft rolled on the runway in a northerly direction before it rotated and climbed to a height of about 500 feet above ground level (AGL), thereafter made a right turn to the east and then to the south.
“The pilot later made another right turn to the west and flew over the runway towards the aerobatic box area. The aerobatic box limits are from ground up to a minimum of 7,500ft and a maximum of flight level (FL) 090,” said the report.
The preliminary investigation found that:
- The flight was conducted in accordance with the provisions of Part 24 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations 2011 as amended.
- Moderate weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and had no bearing on the accident.
- No turbulence was forecast below FL100 close to the time of the accident.
- The pilot had a valid Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and the aircraft type was endorsed on his licence. He also had a valid Class 2 aviation medical certificate issued on October 31 2020 with an expiry date of October 31 2021.
- The pilot had a restriction to wear suitable corrective lenses.
- The pilot performed the Rand KR-2 type conversion training on August 13 2020 and had submitted his “Flight Crew Licence Conversion” form to the regulating authority.
- Examination of the aircraft’s technical records indicated that it was properly certificated and maintained.
The first eyewitness, who was standing outside the hangar, told investigators that he saw the aircraft entering the aerobatic box area and the pilot executed a few aerobatic-type manoeuvres.
“The pilot did not spend much time in the aerobatic box; he then flew to the south.”
A second eyewitness, who was on a farm, observed the aircraft passing overhead at an estimated height of 500 feet (about 150m) above ground level. The aircraft then made a high-speed left turn, which the investigators assumed was the final approach flight path, during which the right-wing broke off midair.
“The aircraft subsequently entered a high-speed descent towards higher ground with no visible sign of recovery. The aircraft disappeared from the second eyewitness’ line of sight; followed by a loud bang,” the report said.
The witness alerted the police and emergency medical services.
The Aeronautical Rescue and Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) initiated a search and rescue mission. A Squirrel helicopter, dispatched from the Pretoria West SAPS Airwing Unit, located the wreckage at Tierpoort farm, south of the runway.
The helicopter crew located the accident scene and discovered the pilot had succumbed to his injuries.
The report found that the flight lasted about 15 minutes and that the aircraft was destroyed in the accident.
“Examination of the accident scene indicated that the aircraft impacted the ground at high speed in a nose-down left-wing high attitude.
“After impact, the aircraft flipped over, and the pilot safety harness failed and was thrown out of the cockpit about 45m to the far end right of the accident scene. Because the structure of the aircraft is made of mainly wood with foam and composite coverings, substantial disintegration occurred on impact.”