Australian carrier Airnorth's fatal loss of an Embraer EMB-120 turboprop at Darwin two years ago resulted in its moving the majority of its pilot training and checks on the type to simulators.
Engine failure was simulated during take-off as part of the flight, on 22 March 2010, to revalidate the command instrument rating of one pilot. But the aircraft (VH-ANB) crashed moments after taking off from Runway 29, killing both crew members.
Investigations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) revealed the commander had retarded the left power lever to flight-idle to simulate failure of the left-hand Pratt & Whitney PW118A engine and the propeller auto-feathering system.
Data from the aircraft's flight recorders showed the increased drag from the propeller increased the force needed to maintain the aircraft's flightpath.
However, the pilot in command allowed the aircraft speed to decrease and for it to bank towards the shut-off engine. He also increased the power on the right engine and engaged the yaw damper "in an attempt to stabilise the aircraft's flight".
"Those actions increased his workload and made control of the aircraft more difficult. The pilot in command did not restore power to the left engine to discontinue the manoeuvre," said the ATSB, adding the pilots had insufficient time to avoid a loss of control.
Since the incident, an EMB-120 simulator and its staff have been approved to undertake Airnorth's training. The operator also reinforced in its pilots the importance of appropriate operator procedures and pilot awareness of the potential hazards as risk mitigators.
The incident also reiterates the importance that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandate the use of simulators for non-normal flying training and proficiency checks in larger aircraft, said the ATSB.