The aircraft was approaching Dunkeswell Airfield, Devon after an uneventful flight from Fairoaks, Surrey. The weather at Dunkeswell was overcast, with rain. The pilot held an IMC1 rating but there is no published instrument approach procedure at Dunkeswell. As the aircraft turned onto the final approach, it commenced a descent on what appeared to be a normal approach path but then climbed rapidly, probably entering cloud. The aircraft then seems to have stalled, turned left and descended to “just below the clouds”, before it climbed steeply again and “disappeared into cloud”. Shortly after, the aircraft was observed descending out of the cloud in a steep nose-down attitude, in what appears to have been a spin, before striking the ground. All four occupants were fatally injured.
The investigation was unable to determine why the aircraft made the initial rapid climb but there was some evidence to suggest that the pilot may have manually overridden the autopilot, during the initial descent, without realising it was still engaged. This would have caused an out-of-trim condition that could have contributed to the aircraft pitching up rapidly. Evaluation flights showed that the pitch attitude achieved during this manoeuvre would have been disorientating for the pilot and may explain why control was not regained.
A correction was issued concerning this report on 23 November 2016. The amended report can be download below.
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The correction was also published in the January 1/2017 Bulletin, which can be downloaded below:
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Published 10 November 2016