ATSB Releases Report on Fatal Parachuting Crash

The 2014 crash killed all five aboard. "Our investigation did uncover a number of safety issues associated with occupant restraint, modification of parachuting aircraft, and scope for improving the risk controls associated with parachuting operations," said ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released several safety recommendations for skydiving operations in the country after investigating a multi-fatality crash of a Cessna U206G aircraft on March 22, 2014. The aircraft stalled and plunged nose-first to the ground while conducting tandem parachuting operations at Caboolture in Queensland, with the impact killing everyone on board -- the pilot, two parachuting instructors, and two tandem parachutists.

ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said the investigation report showed extensive fire damage prevented examination and testing of most of the aircraft components. "Due to the post-impact damage to the aircraft, we couldn't rule out a mechanical defect as a contributor to this accident," he said. "Importantly, our investigation did uncover a number of safety issues associated with occupant restraint, modification of parachuting aircraft, and scope for improving the risk controls associated with parachuting operations."

In response to ATSB's investigation, the Australian Parachute Federation and Australia's aviation safety regulator, CASA, took actions to improve the safety of parachuting operations.

"The APF mandated that all member clubs/operations have their own safety management system to proactively assess and mitigate risks. The APF has also enhanced their audit process and increased the number of full-time safety personnel to audit their member organizations," Hood explained. "The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has increased the available information on their website about the risks associated with sports aviation. CASA also introduced an Airworthiness Bulletin to provide guidance about co-pilot side flight control modifications. We welcome APF's and CASA's safety action but consider more can be done to improve safety for skydiving operations."

ATSB recommended that CASA take safety action to increase the fitment of the Cessna secondary pilot seat stop modification. This safety issue affects all Cessna Aircraft and not just those being used for parachuting operations. It also recommended that CASA introduce measures to reduce the risk associated with the aviation aspect of parachuting operations and that CASA and APF increase the use of dual-point restraints in parachuting aircraft. Both have 90 days to respond to the ATSB’s recommendations.

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