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Last updated: 17 October 2021
Date:Wednesday 9 March 1994
Type:Silhouette image of generic SW4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Swearingen SA226-AT Merlin IV
Registration: VH-SWP
MSN: AT-033
First flight: 1975
Crew:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:15 km (9.4 mls) NE of Tamworth Airport, NSW (TMW) (   Australia)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Departure airport:Armidale Airport, NSW (ARM/YARM), Australia
Destination airport:Tamworth Airport, NSW (TMW/YSTW), Australia
The aircraft departed Bankstown Airport, NSW (BWU) at about 06:40 and proceeded as planned to Inverell Airport, NSW (IVR) with several en route stops. At Inverell the pilot rested until his departure that afternoon for the return journey. At 17:23 the pilot departed Armidale (ARM) for Tamworth (TMW). The planned time for the flight was 17 minutes. The flight plan indicated the flight would be conducted in accordance with IFR procedures. The pilot elected to remain at 4,500 ft in visual meteorological conditions because of conflicting traffic at higher altitudes. The published IFR lowest safe altitude for the route was 5,400 ft.
At about 17:32 the pilot requested a descent clearance. He was cleared to make a visual approach with a clearance limit of 5 NM DME from Tamworth, and was requested to report at 8 DME from Tamworth. The pilot acknowledged the instructions and reported leaving 4,500 ft on descent.
The aircraft was 8.2 NM from Tamworth when it impacted trees at approximately 2,685 ft AMSL. It was descending at an angle of approximately 3.5 degrees, and was banked about 17.5 degrees to the left at impact. The aircraft maintained a straight path after initial impact but had rolled to a bank angle of 25 degrees left by the time the left wing struck a second tree 35 m further on. It then impacted the ground left wing low and inverted, before bouncing into a rock face 200 m from initial impact. The main fuselage wreckage caught fire and the cabin area was destroyed.
There was low cloud and rain in the area at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause:

1. The pilot was making a visual approach in weather conditions unsuitable for such an approach.
2. The pilot had not flown this route before.
3. The aircraft was flown below the lowest safe altitude in conditions of poor visibility.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: BASI
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 7 months
Accident number: BASI report 9400612
Download report: Final report

VFR flight in IMC
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain


photo of Swearingen-SA226-AT-Merlin-IV-VH-SWP
accident date: 09-03-1994
type: Swearingen SA226-AT Merlin IV
registration: VH-SWP

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Armidale Airport, NSW to Tamworth Airport, NSW as the crow flies is 96 km (60 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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