Old Bar ferris wheel aviation accident: final report released

INEFFECTIVE risk management processes by Old Bar Beach Festival Committee and Greater Taree City Council, and pilot training have been identified as contributing factors to the aviation accident at Old Bar Beach Festival in 2011.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) today (April 17) released its final report into the aviation accident on October 1, 2011 that saw a Morgan Aero Works Cheetah Sierra 200 aircraft piloted by Paul Cox of Taree collide with a ferris wheel that was part of a group of amusements at the beach festival. The aircraft carried one passenger and there were four people on the ferris wheel at the time of the collision.

According to the ATSB report, Mr Cox was attempting to land at the Old Bar Airstrip after conducting a private flight from Taree Airport and the pilot commenced a go-around after touching down. It was during the climb out the aircraft collided with the ferris wheel.

In regard to the pilot, the "ATSB found that the management of risk in relation to flight training operations by Recreational Aviation Australia Incorporated (RA-Aus) was adequate; however, it had been circumvented in a number of areas during the training of the pilot. That resulted in a pilot operating in the aviation environment who did not possess the required competencies to exercise the privileges of a private pilot certificate."

The ATSB also found that the approach to the management of risk by the Old Bar Beach Festival Committee, specifically relating to aviation operations at the beach festival, was ineffective and resulted in a level of risk that had the potential to impact on the objectives of the festival.

Following this accident, the Old Bar Beach Festival Committee decided to reduce the level of aviation activity associated with the festival and advised the ATSB that it would, in the future, more actively engage the airstrip committee in the risk management of activities at the festival.

Old Bar Airstrip Committee also decided to close the airstrip for the duration of subsequent Old Bar Beach Festivals and similar public events. The committee also advised the ATSB that it had reviewed its policy for approving operators to use the airstrip and to continue to require individual pilots or representatives of defined groups to obtain permission to the use the airstrip.

According to the report, the ATSB is satisfied that the action taken and proposed by the Old Bar Beach Festival Committee, in combination with the action intended by the Old Bar Airstrip Committee should lead to improvements that adequately address the safety issue.

The accident exposed flaws in Greater Taree City Council's event management guidelines and application forms for event approval. Council advised the ATSB that it had reviewed its event management guidelines and issued a new series of application forms for event approval. The forms cover a range of topics, and include a requirement to undertake a risk assessment process in support of any application. Council also reviewed its processes and improved support for external event management.

The full report can be found here: http://bit.ly/1m91LYB

2011 Old Bar Beach Festival: News of the crash was broadcast around the world.

2011 Old Bar Beach Festival: News of the crash was broadcast around the world.