Burrum Heads crash pilot flew too low, report says

Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators at the scene the day after the plane crash.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators at the scene the day after the plane crash. Alistair Brightman

AN AUSTRALIAN Transport Safety Bureau report into a fatal plane crash at Burrum Heads found that the pilot was flying too low without reason when he struck powerlines.

The crash happened on December 17, 2012, when the pilot crashed into the lines opposite the Flame Lilly Adventures tourist park.

The final ATSB report was released last Thursday, and although the pilot was described as experienced, he didn't have a low-level flying licence.

Gympie pilot Mike Oulton, 59, was flying a Cessna 182A when he approached a parachute drop zone where "a number of people" were gathered for a Christmas function.

One witness expressed concerns about the safety of the aircraft due to its low level.

"The aircraft flew almost overhead the position of the witness at the drop zone and impacted two powerlines, which were at a height of about 9m," the report read.

With the powerlines still in tow, the plane continued to climb before turning right and disappearing behind trees.

A second witness, located 1km north of the Christmas function, described the movements of the aircraft following the powerline impact.

They reported the aircraft attempted to climb when the right wing strut failed, immediately followed by both wings folding upwards, before one wing separated from the aircraft.

"The aircraft then nosedived behind trees," the report read.

"The aircraft subsequently impacted the ground and a post-impact, fuel-fed fire consumed most of the wreckage."

Mr Oulton had flown a total of more than 2000 hours before the crash and family members reported him as being in a good mood and fit and well on the morning of the crash.

"The aircraft struck electrical powerlines while operating below the minimum permitted height of 500ft above ground level," the report concluded.

"The investigation could not identify any operational reason for the pilot to be operating the aircraft below the minimum permitted height."

Report findings

  • A Cessna 182A crashed in Burrum Heads on December 17, 2012
  • There was no reason for the pilot to be flying so low
  • The pilot crashed into powerlines 9m high
  • A group of people at a Christmas function witnessed the crash
  • It was a clear sky with 15 knot winds

The pilot

  • Was killed in the crash 
  • Described as a safe and experienced pilot
  • Had more than 2000 flying hours

Topics:  burrum heads crash flame lily adventure park pilot plane

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