The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has confirmed that the Fairchild Metro III that crashed in far north Queensland on 7 May was 1,000ft (305m) below the minimum obstacle clearance altitude for that stage of the approach to its destination when it collided with terrain. The crash, the country’s worst in nearly 40 years, killed 13 passengers and two crew, writes Emma Kelly.

The Transair aircraft, on lease to Aero-Tropics Air Services, was flying a scheduled service from Bamaga to Cairns via Lockhart River. The aircraft was on an area navigation (RNAV) approach to Lockhart River when it crashed into terrain. The wreckage was 90ft below the top of a 1,300ft tree-covered ridge. Weather conditions were broken low cloud with squally showers and drizzle.

In its preliminary factual report into the crash, the ATSB says it does not know which pilot was flying the aircraft. The cockpit voice recorder has revealed no useful data, but the flight data recorder has approximately 100h of useful data, including information relating to the accident flight.

The data indicates that the aircraft was descending at a constant rate, but with some turbulence starting 50s prior to the impact. Both engines were producing 30-35% of torque, which is consistent with an approach power setting, says the Bureau. The ATSB is continuing its investigation and expects to release an interim report by December.

Source: Flight International