Accident Schleicher ASW 24 G-CHBB, Wednesday 16 August 2023
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Date:Wednesday 16 August 2023
Time:12:25 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS24 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Schleicher ASW 24
Owner/operator:London Gliding Club
Registration: G-CHBB
MSN: 24132
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Dunstable Downs Airfield, Icknield Way, Whipsnade, Dunstable -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Dunstable Downs Airfield, Bedfordshire
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A Schleicher ASW 24 glider crashed during an aerotow takeoff at Dunstable Downs Airfield, Icknield Way, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

The accident occurred during an aerotow launch from Dunstable Airfield. Eyewitnesses reported that, at an early stage in the launch, the glider’s vertical positioning behind the tug was unstable. While the pilot appeared to regain some control over the instability, shortly after the towing aircraft lifted off, witnesses noticed the tow rope had become detached from the glider, which was below 50 ft agl at the time. Despite the lack of traction from the towing aircraft, the glider continued to climb to between 50 and 100 ft agl before it entered a steep left turn with low and reducing airspeed. Shortly after entering the turn the glider yawed left and autorotated into an incipient spin before striking the ground nose first. Witnesses on the airfield arrived at the glider within 80 seconds of the accident but nothing could be done to save the pilot who had suffered fatal injuries during the accident sequence.

The investigation did not identify any mechanical issues with the tow release or other defects which could have led to an uncommanded release of the tow cable or adversely affected the controllability of the glider.

The investigation could not conclusively determine why or how the tow rope came to be released from the glider at an early stage in the takeoff. With the glider no longer connected to the towing aircraft, the accident pilot found himself in a challenging position, possibly suffering from the negative performance shaping effects of startle and/or surprise. With little height or speed available to him he needed to quickly decide on an appropriate course of action. That he decided to turnback toward the airfield indicates he did not consider landing ahead was a viable option. Tragically, at the height and speed he found himself, turning back proved unachievable. This accident serves to highlight how challenging it is to make effective decisions when something goes wrong unexpectedly at a critical stage of flight. While pilots may verbalise their intentions as part of an eventualities brief, being able to enact the plan when startled, surprised and under extreme pressure, is not necessarily assured".

=Accident site=
The accident site was located on the airfield, close to the western boundary which is bordered by the B489 road. The glider had come to rest upright, pointing in a northerly direction and the wreckage distribution was confined to a small area.

Damage sustained to airframe===
Per the AAIB Report "Unknown". However, the CAA have cancelled the registration G-CHBB (with the airframe being de-registered) on 22 February 2024 as "destroyed"

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB Report:

History of this aircraft

This Schleicher ASW 24 was built in 1990, and previously registered on the BGA (British Gliding Association) register as BGA3802. The glider took up the registration G-CHBB on 3 December 2007 to the London Gliding Club (Propriety) Ltd at Dunstable Downs Airfield, Icknield Way, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

After the incident at Dunstable Downs Airfield on 16 August 2003 the CAA cancelled the registration G-CHBB (with the airframe being de-registered) on 22 February 2024 as \"destroyed\".



Revision history:

16-Aug-2023 16:48 edk1994 Added
16-Aug-2023 16:48 harro Updated
17-Aug-2023 07:07 Aerossurance Updated
17-Aug-2023 12:26 rej67 Updated
17-Aug-2023 12:26 RobertMB Updated
19-Aug-2023 16:17 SPB Updated
19-Aug-2023 16:18 harro Updated
20-Aug-2023 16:20 RobertMB Updated
20-Aug-2023 19:02 Dr. John Smith Updated
20-Aug-2023 19:03 harro Updated
29-Aug-2023 06:39 Swarrciora Updated
14-Nov-2023 19:08 SPB Updated [Registration, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Source]
30-May-2024 16:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
30-May-2024 16:42 ASN Updated [Embed code, Narrative, Accident report]

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