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Written by Peter Carter

December 1, 2013

A Tropicair Cessna 208B Grand Caravan crashed on Monday in the course of a forced landing at a disused airstrip at Kibeni in the west of Papua New Guinea, killing 3 and injuring 9.
After re-fueling from drums, the aircraft departed Kamusi for Purari River at 1.15pm on the next leg of an IFR charter. It carried nine passengers (including a pilot in RH seat about to begin training with the operator). Approximately two minutes after top of climb at 9,000 ft, there was a loud bang and then a complete loss of engine power.

After configuring the aircraft for best glide speed and broadcasting a distress call, the pilot selected a short, disused airstrip at Kibeni on the eastern side of the Palbuna River, about 20nm to the east, 7nm south of track, as a forced landing site.

The pilot flew a circuit to approach the strip from the south-west with the opposite end of the strip about 50 ft above the eastern edge of the river. The aircraft bounced on the grass strip several times, but because of its still high ground speed, the pilot elected to pull up on the controls to take the plane airborne and attempt to bring it to rest in the river-edge vegetation.

The aircraft impacted inverted, below the bank on the western side of the river and partly submerged.
Villagers arrived by canoe and transported the pilot and surviving passengers across the river. They were airlifted by helicopter to Kopi, 44 km northeast of Kibeni.

Investigations into the operator’s maintenance system, re-fuelling arrangements, the compressor turbine disc assembly, fuel pump, fuel control unit, and engine performance, are continuing.

Categories: Aviation law

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