Accident MicroWings Tri-Cubby ZU-EIB, Tuesday 29 August 2023
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Date:Tuesday 29 August 2023
Time:c. 12:55
Type:MicroWings Tri-Cubby
Registration: ZU-EIB
MSN: AK 0510 K
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Ridgemont Farm, Robertson District, Western Cape -   South Africa
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Swellendam (FASX)
Destination airport:Worcester Airport (FAWC)
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On Tuesday morning, 29 August 2023, a pilot on-board the Tri Cubby aircraft with registration ZU-EIB took off from Worcester Aerodrome (FAWC) to Swellendam Aerodrome (FASX), both located in the Western Cape province. The flight was conducted under visual meteorological conditions (VMC) by day and under the provisions of Part 94 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 2011 as amended.

The flight from FAWC (where the aircraft was hangared) to FASX was approximately 60 nautical miles (nm) and was uneventful. After arriving at FASX, the pilot parked the aircraft at an approved person’s (AP’s) hangar for him to conduct maintenance of replacing the two rudder cables with the 3mm stainless steel cables. According to the AP, the pilot had an overnight suitcase on the front seat (tandem seating arrangement with the pilot flying from the aft seat) of the aircraft, which he brought with him in the event that he needed to stay over for the night as he was not certain how long the maintenance would take, and in the case of adverse weather conditions prevailing, which would prohibit him from flying back to home base at FAWC. The AP also stated that he had a sports bag and a flight bag placed on top of the suitcase. The suitcase was secured with the aircraft-equipped lap strap. The aircraft was fitted with dual flight controls.

At approximately 1020Z, the pilot took off from FASX back to FAWC. At 1055Z whilst flying overhead Robertson area, a farm worker at Ridgemont Farm noticed a light aircraft which was approaching from the direction of the mountain; he saw it spin shortly before it descended in a nose-down and tail-high attitude until it impacted the ground. The aircraft burst into flames upon impact with the ground. The eyewitness rushed to the scene, which was approximately 650 metres (m) from where he was standing at the time. Other farm workers who saw the smoke also made their way to the scene with a water tanker. Due to the intensity of the fire, they were unable to get close to the wreckage, but they managed to contain the fire by spraying water on it. The accident occurred approximately 38 nautical miles (nm) after take-off from FASX whilst en route to FAWC. The aircraft was destroyed by the post-impact fire that erupted following the explosion. The pilot was fatally injured in the accident.

The pilot had a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). The pilot was initially issued a pilot licence on 24 May 2010 by the Regulator (SACAA). His licence renewal was issued by the Regulator on 1 May 2023. The aircraft type was endorsed on his licence. The pilot was issued a Class 1 aviation medical certificate on 16 March 2023 with an expiry date of 30 September 2023.

The pilot had conducted his conversion to the aircraft type on 20 May 2023, whereafter the aircraft type was endorsed on his licence. This was the first tandem seat aircraft type that was endorsed on the pilot’s licence. The aircraft is flown from the aft seat. The total flying hours entered in the table above were obtained from the pilot’s application form, which he had submitted to the Regulator for his CPL in May 2023. His flying hours at the time of the accident could not be determined with certainty as the pilot’s logbook was in the aircraft at the time of the flight and was destroyed by the post-impact fire. According to available information, the pilot flew for 1 hour on 20 May 2023 when he conducted his conversion to the aircraft type.

A new flight folio was opened following the last annual inspection that was conducted on the aircraft on 23 May 2023; however, the flight folio was not in the aircraft as it was still at the aircraft’s maintenance facility. This was confirmed by the AP who replaced the two rudder cables as he had requested the flight folio from the pilot/owner to sign off the work done on the aircraft, but was informed that the flight folio was still at the maintenance facility. It was, therefore, not possible to obtain the actual number of flight hours post the last annual inspection as the Hobbs meter was also destroyed in the post-impact fire.

The weather information below was obtained from the Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) that was issued by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) for Cape Town International Aerodrome (FACT) on 29 August 2023 at 1200Z. FACT was the closest official weather station, located 60nm south-west of the accident site.

FACT 291200Z 02013KT CAVOK 31/10 Q1016 NOSIG=

The METAR for FACT indicated that the wind direction was north-easterly with moderate average surface wind speed of 13 knots. The notable (big) difference between current temperate and dew point temperature indicates dry conditions, which coincides with clear conditions presented on the satellite imagery.

The Day Natural Colours satellite imagery of the MeteoSat Second Generation (MSG) taken at 1200Z on 29 August 2023 indicate that there were no significant clouds (shows clear skies) over the area of the accident.

The 1200Z Cape Town (FACT-68816) upper air ascent valid for 29 August 2023 show dry conditions which indicate the absence of significant clouds at low level. This coincides with the clear conditions on the satellite imagery and the METAR (above). The profile also shows an increase of 15kt in wind speed between 1000 hPa and 950 hPa, with wind direction backing with height. This is an indication of severe low-level turbulence. The presence of low-level inversion in the ascent supports the presence of severe turbulence. In addition, the 15kt north-easterly winds at 153m indicate that there could have been mountain waves turbulence over the mountains with the north-westerly to south-easterly orientation in the vicinity of the accident.

The aircraft impacted the ground in a high-speed nose-down attitude in a south-easterly direction, which was the opposite direction to which the aircraft was flying. There were no skid marks or any other damage apart from the aircraft being consumed by the postimpact fuel-fed fire. The aircraft wreckage remained in a nose-down attitude (tail in the air). Emergency personnel had to cut several structural beams to retrieve the deceased. During the on site investigation by the AIID team, the EMS team availed themselves to point out the areas and parts they had to cut.

No evidence could be found that the structural integrity of the aircraft was compromised, and all the flight controls were accounted for. The elevator trim was found in the full noseup position (see Figure 6). The two rudder cables that were replaced prior to the accident flight were found intact and securely connected (see Figure 7). The right rudder cable was, however, cut by the EMS personnel and this was pointed out to the investigation team.

The accident was not considered survivable due to the destruction of the cockpit/cabin area and the post-impact fuel-fed fire.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Report number: 
Status: Preliminary report
Download report: Preliminary report



Revision history:

17-Sep-2023 07:57 KvdB Added
28-Sep-2023 12:14 harro Updated
02-Nov-2023 18:52 Captain Adam Updated

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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