Thursday, 21st of February, 1980
Advance Airlines Flight 4210, a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD/YSSY), to Temora Airport, NSW (TEM/YTEM), Australia, operated with a Beechcraft 200 Super King Air, registration VH-AAV, crashed into a sea wall while attempting to make an emergency landing at Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD/YSSY), Australia
The aircraft was completely destroyed. The pilot and the twelve passengers perished. (13 fatalities)
The crash of Flight 4210 is the 18th deadliest aviation accident on Australian soil. It is also the second worst accident involving the Beech King Air.
King Air VH-AAV was operating as Advance Airlines flight DR4210 to Temora and Condobolin, New South Wales with a single pilot and 12 passengers on board. The aircraft commenced takeoff on runway 25 at 1908 hours and, after climbing to a height of no more than 150 feet (46 m), the aircraft was observed to level off and enter a shallow bank to the left. The pilot contacted the control tower advising he had suffered failure of the left engine and requesting an immediate return to land on runway 34. Air Traffic Control acknowledged this request and cleared the King Air to make a visual approach to the runway behind an Ansett Airlines Boeing 727 on final approach.
As VH-AAV continued to turn towards the runway, it descended to just a few feet above the water on a heading towards a sea wall enclosing the runway which stretches into Botany Bay. This manoeuvre prompted the tower controller to enquire if the approach and landing would proceed as normal. The reply from the pilot eight seconds later was “Alpha Alpha Victor negative”. This was the final transmission from the aircraft. At 1909:08, the Sydney Airport crash alarm system was activated, and the preceding Ansett 727 was instructed to expedite its landing roll and vacate the runway. At 1909:20 VH-AAV was cleared to land but this clearance was not acknowledged. At 1909:22 the aircraft impacted the sea wall six feet (1.8 m) above the waterline. The total duration of the flight was 106 seconds from brakes release to impact. Five fire fighting appliances were dispatched to the accident site and crews extinguished the fire within 10 minutes of the crash.
The initial impact caused the left wing to disintegrate while a section of the right wing, including its engine, separated from the aircraft and came to rest adjacent to the runway. The fuselage was engulfed in an explosion caused by fuel igniting as the wing structures separated. The main wreckage bounced over the sea wall and landed inverted on a taxiway, sliding along the ground for a distance of approximately 55 m (180 ft). All 13 aboard the aircraft were killed in the accident which was ruled to be non-survivable.
“The cause of the accident has not been determined, but the most likely explanation is that the aircraft was operated in a reduced power configuration which, under the prevailing conditions, rendered its single-engine performance critical in respect to aircraft handling. The following findings were reported:
– At a height of about 100 feet AGL the left engine failed, probably due to the ingestion of water-contaminated fuel,
– The source of water contamination of the left fuel system of VH-AAV was not established but elemental analyses indicated the water had been present in the fuel system for some time,
– It could
not be determined where the water in the left fuel system of VH-AAV had accumulated or by what means it traveled to the left engine,
– It was not established whether or not the pilot had carried out a fuel drain check prior to the accident flight,
– At the time of engine failure, a high cockpit workload situation existed.”