SAFA Skysailor Magazine

22 SKY SAILOR September | October 2020 Greetings fellow pilots This issue we have quite a few reports to look at, and we are going to start off with a few concerning some of our weight-shift microlight members. First to AIRS #1167. In December 2019, a pilot flying an Airborne XT-912 from Myrup airfield (near Esperance, WA) was two minutes into the flight when the low oil pressure alarm activated. The pilot commenced searching for a place to land and diagnose the problem, because an electrical fault can sometimes cause the alarm to activate. However, in this case the alarm was legitimate, and the engine seized a minute later. The pilot made a forced landing in coastal scrub 100m from a beach. The aircraft suffered extensive damage, but the pilot escaped injury. Following this report, we received a defect report from another pilot in WA. This pilot had an in-flight failure of the oil cooler, but made a safe landing with no injury or damage. There is a common element to both of these reports: In both cases the pilots had fitted a larger, after-market Rotax oil cooler in an effort to provide better cooling during hot weather and under added load during towing operations. However, the oil cooler is on the aircraft side of the system, not the engine side, and as such requires the approval of the manufacturer (i.e. Airborne) if a change in part number is intended. Changing the oil cooler for a part not specified by Airborne places the aircraft outside of its certification. As Airborne have stated to the Ops Team, for any modification such as this to be made, they require a full description, detailed diagrams and photographs describing the proposed changes so that they can make an assessment as to whether the modification complies with all relevant design standards. Owners of Rotax 912 powered aircraft should refer to the Service Information notice from Rotax, particularly the Notice at 1.1. Now to AIRS #643 which dates from September 2016. The pilot and passenger were flying over the Mowbray River near Port Douglas (QLD/N) spotting salt-water crocodiles. While over cut cane fields at 500ft agl, their Airborne XT-912 Tundra (with an Arrow wing) was hit by a strong thermal causing an unusual attitude and a loss of altitude. The pilot had pretty much recovered from this when hit by a second thermal. This caused a lockout which, with only limited altitude left for recovery, led to a landing in mangroves. The aircraft went in astern, chopping vegetation on the way. The aircraft was written off with both pilot and passenger incurring significant injuries. Things could have been even worse, since a five metre plus croc was in the vicinity. The takeaway from this report is to always allow sufficient altitude to recover from encountering strong thermals. All pilots need to be aware that in medium to high temperatures, even with light winds, the likelihood of thermals is very high, and thermals close to the ground may be tighter and more concentrated than at altitude. Always give yourself enough altitude to deal with the unexpected especially if carrying a passenger. Always be in tune with your environmental condi- tions as the unexpected is always just around the corner. AIRS #1169 takes us to Atherton airfield, inland from Cairns (QLD/N). AIRS Safety wrap-up – July 2020 Flying Mt Widgee, SE QLD – Photo: Paul Reilly