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Last updated: 6 December 2021
Date:Thursday 28 January 2016
Type:Silhouette image of generic C208 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 208 Caravan I
Operator:Hamilton Island Air
Registration: VH-WTY
MSN: 20800522
First flight: 2010
Total airframe hrs:1510
Engines: 1 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 10
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 11
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island, QLD (   Australia)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Departure airport:Hamilton Island Airport, QLD (HTI/YBHM), Australia
Destination airport:Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island, QLD, Australia
The pilot of a Cessna 208 Caravan amphibian aircraft, registered VH-WTY was conducting a series of charter flights in the Whitsunday region of Queensland, Australia.
The pilot was conducting his third flight of the day when the aircraft departed Hamilton Island Airport at about 14:15 local time with 10 passengers on board. The tour included a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef for about 50 minutes before heading to Chance Bay, on the south-east tip of Whitsunday Island, about 11 km north east of Hamilton Island Airport. Following a water landing at Chance Bay, the group was to spend 90 minutes at the beach before a short flight back to Hamilton Island. The tour was originally planned to include a landing at Whitehaven Beach, however wind conditions at the time required the water landing be altered to Chance Bay.
The aircraft approach Whitsunday Island from the north and conduct an orbit about 2 km north of Whitehaven Beach at about 15:10, before heading toward Whitehaven Beach. It flew over the southern end of Whitehaven Beach and the strip of land that separates it from Chance Bay.
The pilot advised that he flew over the western end of Chance Bay’s main beach in order to conduct a visual pre-landing check of the bay. The pilot noted the positions of various vessels moored in the bay to determine the best taxi path to the beach. During this fly-over, the pilot also noted the sea state and observed evidence of wind gusts on the water surface. The pilot then initiated a right downwind turn toward the landing area. The approach was from the south with the intent to land in the most suitable location within the designated landing area and then taxi to the beach.
The pilot reported setting up for landing at about 50 ft above the water and then delayed the landing in order to fly through an observed wind gust. Passenger video footage indicated that, during the subsequent landing, WTY bounced three times on the surface of the water. After the second bounce, with WTY getting closer to the beach and terrain, the pilot increased engine power and initiated a go-around. The third bounce, which occurred almost immediately after the second, was the most pronounced and resulted in the aircraft rebounding about 30 to 50 ft above the water. While increasing power, the pilot perceived that the torque was indicating red, suggesting an over-torque for the selected propeller configuration. Noticing that the climb performance was less than expected with the flaps at 30°, the pilot stopped increasing power and reduced the flap to 20°.
As the aircraft climbed straight ahead towards a saddle, climb performance was still below the pilot’s expectations and he assessed that WTY would not clear the terrain. In response, the pilot turned right to avoid the surrounding rising terrain. The aircraft clipped trees during this turn, before colliding with terrain and coming to rest in dense scrub about 150 m from the eastern end of the main beach, near the top of the ridge. The pilot promptly advised the passengers to exit and move away from the aircraft. Some of the 11 people on board suffered minor injuries but all were able to quickly leave the aircraft. There was no post-impact fire.

Probable Cause:

Contributing factors
- The aircraft's initial touches with water were past the nominated decision point and beyond the northern boundary of the ALA, which reduced the safety margins available for a successful water landing or go-around.
- The pilot initiated a go-around without using all available power and the optimal speed, turned towards higher terrain and placed the aircraft in a down-wind situation, which ultimately resulted in the collision with terrain.
Other findings
- The aircraft was equipped with lap-sash seatbelts, which have been demonstrated to reduce injury, and the use of emergency beacons and satellite phone facilitated a timely response to the accident.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: ATSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 4 years and 6 months
Accident number: AO-2016-007
Download report: Final report

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

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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 Hamilton Island Airport, QLD to Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island, QLD as the crow flies is 11 km (7 miles).

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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