According to the ATSB, a 65-year-old pilot who survived a crash that killed his 83-year-old passenger was flying without a license.
Because the pilot and plane were going “outside aviation regulations,” the transport safety authority decided that further investigation of the incident was improper.
The ATSB also stated that the plane had not been properly maintained since it was purchased in 2011.
Following an engine failure, the 44-year-old amateur-built Jodel D11 crashed on a beach at Ball Bay, north-west of Mackay Airport in Queensland, on December 24, 2021.
The airplane rotated after one of its wooden propellers fell off, causing it to tumble onto its side and partially invert.
The passenger died as a result of his injuries, while the pilot was transported to the hospital and later released. The plane was shot down.
Despite the fact that he was in control of the plane and had been maintaining it himself, it is claimed that the pilot involved did not have a pilot license or an aviation maintenance engineer license with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducts independent ‘no-blame’ investigations into accidents and incidents for the purpose of identifying safety issues and actions and to help prevent the occurrence of similar future accidents, and we do not investigate for the purpose of taking administrative, regulatory or criminal action,” said ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell.
“In this tragic accident, ATSB investigators established quite quickly that the aircraft, an amateur-built two-seat Jodel D11, was being operated outside of aviation regulations.
“The pilot was not licensed to fly airplanes and the aircraft and engine had not been maintained in accordance with the appropriate regulations for about 10 years.”
The ATSB stated that a further examination into the cause of the engine failure that led the jet to crash would be “unlikely” to lead to the identification of a broader systemic safety risk because the plane had not been maintained to regulatory requirements for a decade.
“On that basis, the ATSB has determined that there was a limited opportunity that continuing to direct resources at this investigation would uncover safety learnings for the broader aviation industry,” Mitchell said.
During their inspection of the plane wreckage, authorities discovered that the passenger’s seat belt had entirely failed in two areas, he added.
“Both the pilot and passenger’s seat belts were manufactured in May 1973 and were required to be removed from service prior to 1 January 1990 in accordance with a Civil Aviation Safety Authority airworthiness directive,” Mitchell said.
“When owners operate outside of the rules, they remove the built-in safety defences and undetected problems are more likely to emerge.”