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Australian Saratoga Loss Points To Overloading

ATSB Believes Aircraft Was Out Of CG Range

A Piper Saratoga PA-32R-301T (similar aircraft pictured) was lost while making a landing approach at night to Moree Airport in New South Wales in Australia on March 30, 2011. The aircraft was flying under night VFR with a pilot and five passengers aboard, and was inbound from Brewarrina Airport NSW when witnesses observed the aircraft on a low approach path flying towards runway 19.

The aircraft came in contact with trees and collided with level terrain about 1800ft short of the runway 19 threshold.

The pilot and three of the five passengers were fatally injured, while the remaining two passengers seated in back sustained serious injuries. The aircraft was seriously damaged by the ground impact. The ATSB's investigation did not reveal any systemic safety issues with the aircraft, but the pilot had not satisfied the recency requirements of his NVFR rating and the aircraft was determined to have been in excess of its maximum allowable weight.

The ATSB believes the Saratoga's center of gravity was probably outside the range specified in the aircraft's flight manual, with the potential for diminished pitch control.

FMI: www.atsb.gov.au

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