Accident Titan Tornado S ZU-ITA, Thursday 5 October 2023
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Date:Thursday 5 October 2023
Time:c. 17:00
Type:Titan Tornado S
Registration: ZU-ITA
MSN: S03912SOHK0462
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Ceres Airport (FACE), Western Cape -   South Africa
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Ceres Airport (FACE)
Destination airport:Stellenbosch (FASH)
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On Thursday, 5 October 2023, the pilot on-board a Titan Tornado S aircraft with registration ZU-ITA took off on a private flight from Stellenbosch Aerodrome (FASH) in the Western Cape province with New Tempe Aerodrome (FATP) in Bloemfontein, Free State province, as the final destination. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Part 94 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 2011 as amended.

According to the pilot’s friend, on 4 October 2023, the pilot communicated with him through a WhatsApp message that he needed to fly to Bloemfontein, but was “unhappy” with the aircraft. However, the pilot did not state what his concerns were about the aircraft.

An eyewitness who resides at Winterbach Boerdery Farm near FACE stated that at approximately 1500Z on 5 October 2023, he saw an aircraft land at FACE. Thereafter, he heard the engine revolutions per minute (RPM) being revved up for short periods several times, which suggested that the pilot might have been conducting an engine run after landing, as well as making some adjustments to the engine. This intermittent sequence repeated several times. According to the wife of the pilot, at 1430Z on the same day, she received a phone call from the pilot who stated that he was inspecting the aircraft, but did not elaborate on the matter.

After several engine runs were conducted, which lasted about 2 hours, the eyewitness observed the aircraft when it took off from FACE in a south-westerly direction. Shortly after the aircraft was airborne, the engine became intermittent (starting and restarting). He then observed the aircraft making a 180⁰ turn to the left, and at that point, the left wing dropped. The pilot seemed to be making inputs to recover the aircraft but without success. The aircraft impacted a dense vegetation in a nose-down attitude near Winterbach Boerdery Farm and came to rest in an inverted attitude.

The eyewitness called the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and the South African Police Service (SAPS). The EMS personnel reported that they found the pilot fatally injured; he was still properly strapped to his seat with a harness. The EMS personnel cut the seatbelt to recover the pilot’s body. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces.

The accident occurred during daylight at Winterbach Boerdery Farm, south-west of FACE, at Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates determined to be 33⁰19’14” South 19⁰25’4” East, at an elevation of 1 480 feet (ft) above mean sea level (AMSL).

The pilot was initially issued a National Pilot Licence (NPL) on 24 April 2003. His last licence validation was conducted on 21 April 2023 with an expiry date of 14 April 2025. The aircraft type was endorsed on the pilot’s licence. The pilot was issued a Class 4 aviation medical certificate on 30 November 2021 with an expiry date of 30 November 2023.

The flying hours on the pilot’s logbook were last recorded on 14 April 2023 during his licence renewal.

The Tornado S is designed to a +6 gravity/-4 gravity (g) load limit capability at 1 140 pounds (lbs) (gross weight 517.1 kilograms). The aircraft has a two-seat in tandem “stretched” fuselage and it is equipped with the Rotax 912S engine. The cruise speed is in excess of 120 miles per hour (mph). The aircraft’s fuel capacity is 56.8 litres (L) (15 gallons). Titan Tornado S qualified as a Light Sport Aircraft as defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to available information, the aircraft was first registered to the present owner on 30 September 2020. The Certificate of Release to Service (CRS) was signed out by an approved person (AP) on 26 August 2022 at 41.7 airframe hours with an expiry date of 26 August 2023 or at 141.7 airframe cycles, whichever occurs first.

The aircraft had a valid Authority to Fly (ATF) that was initially issued by the Regulator on 12 April 2023 with an expiry date of 11 April 2024.

Based on the aircraft maintenance records, the last annual inspection on the aircraft was conducted on 26 August 2022 at 41.7 airframe hours. The aircraft had accumulated an additional 16.1 airframe hours in operation since the last inspection; however, the information on the aircraft’s flight folio was last recorded on 25 July 2023.

According to available information, the aircraft was built by the owner using the design from the manufacturer (Titan Tornado). The approval to build the aircraft was issued on 9 July 2020 by the Regulator (SACAA).

The AP who signed out the last maintenance was reissued an AP Certificate on 24 January 2023 with an expiry date of 24 January 2024.

The weather information below was obtained from the Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) that was issued by the South African Weather Service (SAWS), recorded at Cape Town International Airport (FACT) on 5 October 2023 at 1500Z. FACT is located 58 miles (94 kilometres) from the accident site.

The aircraft struck the ground approximately 425 metres (m) south-west of FACE in a steep nose-down attitude. It impacted the ground with the right-side wing tip, and the left- and right-side wings separated from the airframe. The separated wings were found next to the main airframe. The main wheels were still attached to their respective axles. The aircraft came to rest in an inverted attitude on a heading of approximately 203⁰ magnetic. The wreckage was contained in a single location.

The aircraft’s right wing tip first impacted the ground before the wings separated from the airframe.

The wings separated from the main airframe and were found lying parallel to the main airframe; the flaps were at an angle of 15⁰.

The instruments were heavily damaged as a result of the impact; they separated from the instrument panel. The auxiliary and fuel pump switches were found in the “OFF” position.

The on-site inspection of the engine and propeller indicated that there was no power at the time of impact; all damage was attributed to the impact forces. One propeller blade tip broke off during the impact sequence which indicated that the engine was not operating at the time of impact with the ground. A piece of the composite blade was found in the vicinity of the accident site. All associated components (fuel pipes, electrical wires and exhaust system) of the engine were still intact. The engine propeller rotated by hand when checked. The filter was checked and there was fuel inside, and there was no sediment or contamination found.

The pilot was wearing the safety seat belt harness; however, the injuries sustained by the pilot were not survivable due to the manner in which the aircraft impacted the ground. The pilot’s seat was heavily damaged, hence, the EMS had to cut the safety seat belt harness to free the pilot from the wreckage.

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

Flyafrica (photo)


Revision history:

05-Oct-2023 20:42 Captain Adam Added
06-Oct-2023 05:25 RobertMB Updated
09-Oct-2023 11:58 Anon. Updated
09-Oct-2023 16:37 Anon. Updated
02-Nov-2023 18:37 Captain Adam Updated

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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