Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 15 November 1927
Page: 1386

Go To First Hit

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE - On the 2nd November the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked what action the Minister for Defence proposed to take in connection with the publican tion of the report of the Air» Accideats «Investigation» «Committee» . I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the report in question has already been published in the press, and the following is a corjy of it: -

Report of «Accidents» to Aircraft.

The «Air» «Accidents» «Investigation» «Committee» was brought into being on the 26th May, 1927, by regulations under the «Air» Navigation Act, 1920 (statutory rules 1927, No. 47). The following report embraces the investigations of this «committee» from the date of its inception (26th May, 1927) until the 26th September, 1927 - a period of four months.

The «accidents» investigated include, however, four «accidents» occurring prior to the establishment of the «committee» , the earliest of which occurred on the 24th March, 1927, so that the committee's investigations may be taken to cover «accidents» to aircraft over a period of six months. During the half-year under review there were seven «accidents» which were investigated by the «committee» .

The circumstances which led to these «accidents» were briefly as follows: -

1.   Royal Australian «Air» «Force» .

(i)   Two two-seater machines forming part of an aerial escort to Their Koyal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York on their arrival in Melbourne collided after the completion of u salute made by the formation when Their Royal Highnesses were entering Government Blouse grounds.

The salute consisted of a dive in formation and subsequent upward climb. One of the two machines dived somewhat lower than the remainder of the formation, and, rising steeply, collided with the other.

The machines were thoroughly airworthy prior to flight, and there was no evidence of any subsequent defect developing during flight; neither was there evidence that the 2>ilots or passengers were other than medically fit.

As the result of damage on impact, both machines came down out of control, and crashed. One machine caught fire on falling on to an iron roof and was burned. Each machine contained a pilot and passenger, and all were killed.

(ii)   In connexion with the review of troops at Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York at the opening of Parliament, a singleseat fighter was seen to leave the formation immediately after the formation had made a left-hand turn.

The machine took up a steep gliding position with a slight turning movement, and this glide was continued until it struck the ground nt a point opposite to and some 600 yards away from the front of Parliament House. The machine was badly smashed, and, although the pilot was conscious, he was too seriously injured to make a statement as to what had occurred, and died tha't same evening.

The evidence brought to light that the machine was airworthy prior to flight, and, as far as it was possible to ascertain from the wreckage, there was no failure of any part of the machine during flight. No evidence was obtainable as to whether or not the controls had been jambed or their function interfered with through any object carried in the machine. There was no evidence that the pilot was other than medically fit.

It waa impossible 'to determine the cause of the accident.

(iii)   On a travelling flight between Canberra and Melbourne a single-seat fighter was forced to land through engine failure.

The pilot had found it necessary to deviate from the normal route owing to the approach of a storm, and at the time of the engine failure found himself over rugged and heavily timbered country, with no available clear space within range on which to make a landing. He decided to alight on top of the trees, which he did successfully, and, although the machine was wrecked, he received nothing worse than a severe shaking. After spending the night near the machine, he made his way on foot for a considerable distance through the ranges to a farm, and from there was able to proceed by car to the nearest railway station. The machine was subsequently located and examined by a salvage party.

The evidence points to the conclusion that the engine seized owing to exhaustion of the supply of lubricating oil.

2.   Civil Aviation.

(i)   A commercial four-seater - machine whilst on a regular weekly run crashed when making a landing at an aerodrome en route. The machine contained two passengers in addition to the pilot. All were killed. The pilot had joined the service of the company about three weeks before the date of the accident. Prior to joining the company, he had flown approximately 200 hours on machines of an almost identical type, and after joining the company had flown some 12 hours on the type of machine in which the accident occurred. He had been over the route on three prior occasions, and had landed at this aerodrome. The machine was found to have been thoroughly airworthy prior to flight. No evidence could be found of any subsequent defect developing, or that the pilot was other than medically fit. The evidence points to the fact that the machine stalled following an incorrect approach to land.

(ii)   During a solo flight by a pupil of a civil flying training school the machine - a light aeroplane - was seen to get into an inverted position at approximately 1,500 feet. In this position it assumed a steep gliding angle, crashing on to a set of electric tramway cables suspended on poles. The pilot was killed and the machine burnt. From the evidence it appears that the pilot had had 6 hours 25 minutes dual instruction, and flown 52 minutes solo prior to the accident. He had been grunted permission to practice steep turns at a height of 2,000 feet. Whilst engaged on this practice, and following a steep right-hand turn, the machine assumed an inverted position, from which it would have automatically recovered if all controls had been centralized. Apart from the instruction to centralize controls when in difficulty, no instruction had been given the pupil in inverted flight, as this is a very advanced form of aerobatics. The conclusion arrived at was that the inverted position of the machine was caused in the first instance through the pilot's inexperience in carrying out a steep right-hand turn, and that the failure of the machine to return to normal flying position was probably due to the control column being forced forward either -

(a)   by the pilot intentionally or accidentally: or

(6)   by the elevator adjustment lever being in a fully forward position, and the pilot releasing his grasp oi the control column.

(iii)   A machine operated by a company engaged in taking up paying passengers for short nights had landed, but was still running forward with its propellor revolving, when a number of spectators ran towards it. With the exception of one, all ultimately got out of its way. A middle-aged woman, who failed to do so, was struck by the propeller, and subsequently died as a result of injuries received. From the evidence it was clear that the pilot was in no way to blame, as the line of vision directly ahead is obscured by the nose of the machine.

(iv)   A light aeroplane belonging to .an aero club, and flown by a member of the club, who is an experienced pilot, with another member of the club who is not a pilot, as passenger, got out of control at a height of 600 feet whilst, coming in to land. The pilot had almost regained control when the machine hit an embankment adjacent to the landing ground. The machine was wrecked, and the pilot and passenger injured, but not seriously. The pilot, in evidence, stated that the rudder control jambed following a steep right-hand turn carried out whilst coming in to land, and the conclusion arrived at was that this jarab- ing was in all probability caused by the feet ef the passenger interfering with a corresponding rudder bar in the passenger's cockpit.

Sapbty of Types of Machines in use in Australia and Climatic Conditions. 1. Safety of Types in Use.

It has been stated that because certain aircraft are obsolete or obsolescent, this means that the types of aircraft concerned are less safe to fly than more modern types.

It is considered that such a generalization is entirely unjustified.

Those machines which may now be described' as obsolete or obsolescent represent, in the majority of cases, the climax of the development of aircraft design towards the end of the war. With the exception of certain types, such as the light aeroplane which is designed especially for the private owner, ,and certain commercial types, post-war aircraft design has, up to the present, not resulted in any marked advance on the war-period types. In point of fact, development in design of British «Air» «Force aircraft has in the main been along the lines of increased flying speed, with a resultant increase in the difficulty of operation. The types of engine in use in Australia compare favourably in respect of reliability with those used in otlier countries.

2.   Climatic Conditions.

(a)   Climatic conditions affect the material out of which aircraft are constructed. Experience of aviation in Australia over a number of years shows, however, that the life of aircraft material is, generally speaking, at least equal to that in other countries.

(6)   Climatic conditions also affect the flying performance of aircraft. The performance of an aircraft designed to fly under certain conditions of atmospheric density will decrease as the density of the atmosphere decreases. Thus in warmer parts of Australia, where in consequence atmospheric density is low, an aircraft cannot be as heavily loaded as under conditions of greater atmospheric density. This is a factor which must be borne in 'mind for safety in flying. On the other hand, weather conditions are, generally speaking, superior to those of other countries; s'o much so, that it is generally agreed that from a climatic point of view Australia is an ideal country for flying.

Suggest corrections