AAIB investigation to Zenair CH 601UL Zodiac, G-CBUR

Loss of control during takeoff, Headon Microlight Strip, near Gamston, Nottinghamshire, 22 July 2016.


Runway 14 was used for takeoff as the pilot believed this offered sufficient downslope to compensate for a possible 3 kt tailwind. The temperature was 26ºC and the aircraft was close to maximum weight but the pilot knew the airstrip well and did not calculate the required takeoff run. He anticipated being airborne before reaching a prominent dip in the grass surface, approximately two-thirds of the way along the 600 m strip.

The takeoff roll was longer than expected and, although the pilot rotated just before the ‘dip’, he believed, in retrospect, that he probably rotated at a slightly lower airspeed than normal. At this stage the controls felt “heavy” and, when only a few feet above the ground, the left wing dropped. The pilot was unable to regain control and the aircraft veered into a hedge and span around its left wingtip. Although the aircraft was severely damaged, the canopy opened normally and the two occupants vacated without assistance. They had been wearing lap and diagonal harnesses and were uninjured.

In future, the pilot intends to calculate his aircraft’s takeoff performance, with appropriate allowance for the ambient conditions. He believes he was caught out, on this occasion, by the combined effects of a tailwind and the low atmospheric density.

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Zenair CH 601UL Zodiac, G-CBUR 01-17

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Glossary of abbreviations

Published 12 January 2017